Photos by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks
When the World’s Fair descended upon Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1964-1965, one of the big attractions was the Unisphere. And leading up to this 140-foot-tall stainless steel globe was the Fountain of the Fairs, a large reflecting pool that acted as an interactive mist garden. Though they were renovated in 2000, the fountains were seriously damaged during Hurricane Sandy and stopped working. However, after a recent $6.8 million upgrade, they are back up and running.
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Rendering of architectural lighting: Silman via NYC Parks
After five years of halting progress, NYC Parks officially broke ground last week on a $24 million project that will preserve the Philip Johnson-designed New York State Pavilion Observation Towers in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The current project represents the first major effort to preserve the Pavilion’s structures since their construction for the 1964 World’s Fair.
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Aerial view of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair; via NYPL
On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. The fair, which spread across 1,200 acres, commemorated the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration in Lower Manhattan, and had a central theme of “Building the World of Tomorrow.” Construction of the fair began in 1936, which involved turning the Corona city dump and tidal swamp into the fairgrounds. After the land was cleared, hundreds of architects, designers, engineers and construction workers came together to transform the dump into the site for the World’s Fair.
The “Trylon”, a 700-foot obelisk, and the “Perisphere,” a 200-foot globe, stood in the center of the fairgrounds, soon becoming permanent symbols of the Fair. Many American corporations, including the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Borden Company and General Motors, participated, as a way to introduce fairgoers to new products. With close to 60 nations and 33 U.S. states participating, and its own subway line, the 1939 World’s Fair remains one of the largest, and most iconic, international fairs in history. Ahead, check out some of the photos of the historic World’s Fair, found in the New York Public Library’s extensive collection.
Go back in time
Photo via Wikimedia
For two six-month seasons in 1964, the World’s Fair came to Queens, with exhibits featured from over 80 nations spread across 646 acres. The fair came at a time of mid-20th-century innovation and culture, at the height of the Space Age. It served as a moment of peace before the start of the Vietnam War, with its motto “Peace Through Understanding.” And while many New Yorkers attended the historic event, or have heard stories recounted by parents and grandparents, it’s hard to imagine what it was truly like to experience.
Making it easier to understand what the World’s Fair was really like, the city’s parks department is offering free, monthly tours of the park, allowing visitors to hear the stories behind the Unisphere, the New York State Pavilion and many more landmarks.
Photo courtesy of Bill Cotter/worldsfairphotos
On April 28th and 29th CitiField will be transformed into a modern, food-centric take on the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The World’s Fare wants guests to experience “diversity through cuisine,” which they’ll accomplish with 100+ food vendors from more than 100 cultures (there will also be an international beer garden, live music, and art), and now Eater has the scoop on the first 50 of these participants, which includes old-time Jewish bakery Orwashers, social venture and Bengali pop-up Jhal NYC, Japanese vegetable pancake purveyor Oconomi, Australian restaurant the Thirsty Koala, and Brazilian chocolate shop Brigadeiros.
The full list and all the event details
More than 50 years after the 1964-65 World’s Fair was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the fountains leading up to the iconic Unisphere will be returned to their former glory. amNY first got word that the currently dilapidated Fountain of the Fairs would undergo a $5 million renovation next year. Renderings from Quennell Rothschild & Partners show a Fog Garden, a walkway filled with misting fountains, as well as a children’s water park and another plaza for outdoor performances, all of which will be lined with new landscaping and seating.
More details and renderings
Photo courtesy of Bill Cotter/worldsfairphotos
Experience “diversity through cuisine” at CitiField this spring at an event paying homage to the iconic 1964 New York World’s Fair. Dubbed the World’s Fare, the event will feature over 100 food vendors from more than 100 cultures, as well as live music and art (h/t QNS). Highlights include an international beer garden that will offer tastings of 80 craft beers from 45 breweries and exhibits of LEGO Art and 4-D drawings.
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Photo courtesy of Gregory Fournier
The world’s largest tire, the Uniroyal Giant Tire, reached 80 feet high and weighed 20 tons when it debuted as a Ferris wheel at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. First located in Flushing, Queens, the towering tire was commissioned by the Uniroyal Tire Company and designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, the same architectural firm behind the Empire State Building. During its time at the fair, the tire carried over two million passengers, including Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, Telly Savalas, and the Shah of Iran. Each ride cost just $0.25 and would last 10 minutes.
How did the tire end up in Detroit?
World’s Fair Terminal Station. Photo via Bill Cotter
There was, for a short time, a line of the IND (Independent) subway that was built for the 1939/1940 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the second most expansive American world’s fair of all time (second only to the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904). The event brought over 44 million people to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park site. To make visting the fair more convenient, the city created a new dedicated subway line extension and terminal, then the only line owned by the city.
The extension began on a bridge (called a flying junction) running through Jamaica Yard near what is now the Forest Hills-71st Street stop on today’s M/R lines. The extension turned north along the east side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park over a wooden trestle and ended at the newly-created World’s Fair Terminal Station, which had two tracks and three platforms. The two-mile addition cost $1.7 million to build.
Find out what happened
- A Japanese desk lets you work on your laptop while lying completely flat on your back. [HUH]
- A photo roundup of the 1939 World’s Fair site being built in Queens. [Gothamist]
- Stay dry as you pedal with the bicycle umbrella. [CityLab]
- Is the East 180th Street 2/5 subway entrance in the Bronx the prettiest station in the city? [Scouting NY]
- This Dutch photographer took a photo every time he saw someone reading a book on the subway. [Slate]
- Former Brooklyn couple turns their Nyack, NY craftsman into a home/art gallery. [Design Sponge]
Images: The Super Gorone Desk (L); East 180th Street subway station via MTAPhotos via photopin cc (R)