Joe at the Unisphere
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
In 1939 and 1964, at two great turning points of the 20th century, Flushing Meadows hosted the World's Fair. The fairs were visited by hundreds of thousands- my grandparents saw both of them, and my father and wife's mother were at the 1964 fair as little kids. I wish I could have seen them
All that remains now are scattered in ruins throughout the park-- Ruins of structures that represented the deepest ideals of their time and that expressed an imagined future of hope and progress. It is interesting and sad that many of the promises presented by both Fairs were completely trampled in the years immediately following them.
The park is woefully neglected and fantastically hard to access- finding open access points is abnormally difficult. Ironically, the highways built in the 1930's to bring visitors to the World's Fair now bind the park in such a way that keeps most people out.
But actually, all this is a blessing, as, once in the park, you can be nearly alone amongst the relics of 20th century idealism. There is a strange surreal serenity here- like the landscape of a 1960's post-apocalyptic, failed-utopia science fiction movie.
Also, the park's neglect means you can approach a lot of the structures un-bothered. There's no other place in the city where you can skateboard around and even CLIMB on such internationally iconic structures as the Unisphere.
This is an excellent site about the '64 Fair - the maps are especially superb: www.westland.net/ny64fair/
These are some pictures of the 1939 Fair:
10 mile expedition to Old Vlissingen- from Forest Hills through Corona, Willets Point, colonial sights of Flushing, the World's Fair ruins, and back.
December 2, 2010