Sunday, July 8, 2012

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens

It was hot and steamy here in New York City this weekend, as it has been almost since summer began a few weeks ago.  Tired of staying inside in air conditioning, and feeling a bit of cabin fever, my husband and I decided to take a drive to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York.  This 1,255-acre park has historical, recreational and environmental significance as it was created as the site of the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair and also hosted the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.

Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world with a population of over 2.2 million, 44% of whom are foreign-born, representing over 100 different nations and speaking over 138 different languages. It seems so suitable that this iconic Unisphere, a leftover from the 1964-65 World's Fair is the centerpiece of the park. The monumental stainless steel globe, standing 140 feet high, 120 feet in diameter and weighing 700,000 pounds, was built and presented to the 1964 World's Fair by United States Steel.  It was "dedicated to man's aspirations towards Peace through mutual understanding and symbolizing his achievements in an expanding universe."

Most of the prior World's Fair pavilions and exhibit halls have been dismantled and some moved to other locations across the United States, but a few other remnants remain. The New York State Pavilion--the tall space age looking buildings seen in the top left and lower left in the photo collage above--have more or less been abandoned to a state of disrepair, but are sentimental icons of the park. The pavilion's old "Theaterama" portion, seen in the upper right of the photo collage, is home to the Queens Theatre, a performing arts center which produces and presents theatre and dance, as well as children's and cultural programming. The New York City building, seen in the lower right of the photo collage above, was constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair. It also hosted the United Nations General Assembly 1946-50. In 1972, it became The Queens Museum of Art. The museum is open, but is also undergoing extensive renovation and expansion. It houses the well known Panorama of the City of New York, a scale model of the five boroughs built for the 1964 World’s Fair, which I will be showing in a future blog post.

Below is a video slide showing some of the highlights of the 1964 -1965 New York World's Fair that I found on YouTube on this link:


I have many fond memories of visiting the 1964-1965 World's Fair with my parents and siblings when I was young. It was as spectacular to me as Disneyland might have been if I were lucky enough to have been able to visit that as a child.  In fact, Disney did have the same "It's a Small World" ride and exhibit on display at the NY World's Fair (click on the highlighted words to see a video of Walt Disney narrating the ride at the World's Fair). It was one of my favorite exhibits!  I also remember riding the large Uniroyal Ferris Wheel and visiting the GM "Futurama" exhibit (click the highlighted link to watch a video of that). The Vatican Pavilion at the fair displayed Michelangelo's stunning "Pieta" statue, which attracted millions of visitors. Usually on display in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy, it had never been taken from the Vatican until Pope John XXIII, before his death, granted permission for it to be brought to the fair. Pope Paul VI agreed with his predecessor to allow the statue to travel to New York in 1964. You can see how the statue looked in the World's Fair exhibit on this link.

Some of the World's Fair statuary and fountains also remain in the portion of the park that was once the fair's grounds, although none of the fountains were working the day we visited, including the fountain that surrounds the Unisphere.

There were also some beautifully landscaped areas in this area of the park, including this small poignant circle of flowers in memory of those who lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

On the hot steamy day of our visit we saw many people enjoying the cool shade of the trees in the park, having picnics, or swinging from hammocks that they had the foresight to bring along. Flushing Meadows Corona State Park offers plenty of space for whatever your recreational desires may be--fields are available for baseball, soccer, tennis, cricket, etc. It now includes a stunning park pool and ice rink recreation complex, a zoo, six playgrounds, a botanical garden, a science museum,


 ...... Citi Field baseball stadium, where the National Baseball League New York Mets play their home games. Click here if you'd like to read more about Citi Field I wrote a previous blog post.

US Open photo taken by me in 2011

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC), home to the US Open is also located in the park.  The NTC is open to the public throughout the year, offering three stadiums, plus 22 outdoor and nine indoor courts. Its centerpiece, Arthur Ashe Stadium, is widely-recognized as one of the world’s greatest sports and entertainment venues. Click here if you would like to read about my visit to Arthur Ashe Stadium last year for the US Open men's semi finals.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is definitely a jewel in the NYC borough Queens crown, and worth a visit!

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Snap said...

You need to publish all of these in a book! I always want to pack my bags and come visit when I read your posts!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I agree with Snap...I learn so much from your posts and always want to come to visit! You show us so many beautiful places in the city! Happy Monday!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous pictures/information - very interesting.

pam said...

Wonderful post as always. You are the best kind of history lesson...NO TEST afterwards. (c: Joy to your week. The drought has pretty much killed crops and grass around here. I'm trying to keep my new flowers and rose bushes watered but we may soon go on water restrictions. I am SO THANKFUL for the air conditioning....thanks for getting out of yours to share with us. Brilliant people who take a hammock with them! Joy to your week Pat!

Linda Chapman said...

You give the BEST 'Arm Chair Travel Tours!'
Loved every minute of this! That video was perfect for playing twice. Once to WATCH it and again to listen while looking at all your pics and reading.

Barbara F. said...

I have very fond memories of the 1964-65 World's Fair. I loved It's A Small World and the GE exhibit. There is a car commercial that shows the Unisphere, and the first time I saw it, I thought you would do a post! I also remember the delicious Belgian waffles they sold. xo

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I'd love to see the Unisphere live some day. I was a grade school kid in Utah when the World's Fair was going on but I follwed pretty closely via the magazines that my parents suscribed to. I'm glad that the grounds have been repurposed but some remnants remain.

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Vee said...

My parents had hoped to take us to the World's Fair, though we didn't make it. We were able to go to Expo in Montreal a few years later. I remember it vividly so I know that you remember your trip to the fair very well, too. Such events do have a powerful impact on children.

My grandmother had many souvenirs of the first World's Fair and guess who has them now! ☺ I adore reading E.B. White's essay about the fair called "The World of Tomorrow" where he discussed the common cold and very humorously.

Your photography is a delight and I truly enjoyed seeing it all. I also appreciated the tribute to those who lost their lives in the tsunami in Japan. That was a tender thing to do.

The Gathering Place said...

What a fun post. My husband's family lived in Connecticut at that time and he acted as an unofficial tour guide for all the friends and family who came to visit that summer. The only problem was that he had to keep seeing the same exhibits over and over. We watched the movie you linked and even saw a couple that looked just like his parents walking along. Who know? It could even have been them!

Kim, USA said...

You have a beautiful way of putting a post like this. If only this place is not too far from MI I will be there right away! ^_^ Thanks for sharing.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

neither heat nor humidity nor 100degree temps can keep Pat down! another great post Pat. Is the zoo still there nearby? My niece was a zookeeper there years ago.

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots of the park, very colorful.

Lorrie said...

That is an amazing globe! And what a great park to visit. You really should publish a guide to New York - you always find fascinating things for your posts.

Micupoftea~ said...

Wow, nice post, interesting photos! We've only been to see the Statue of thx for taking us along on your outing!

eileeninmd said...

It is true, Pat. I also learn a lot from visiting your post. Also, they bring back some memories. My sister and her boyfriend took me to the New York World Fair when I was just a kid. Being so young, I only remember little bits of the World Fair. Great post and lovely photos.

diane b said...

As others have said, thanks for the informative tour. I always love learning about NY in your posts. I've often heard of Flushing Meadow in relation to tennis but now I have seen more of it.

GrandmaK said...

A really beautiful place. I'll bet is was exciting to attend the Worlds Fair!!! As always you took us on a grand tour! Have wonderful week! Cathy

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Lots to see and do, that's for sure! Just a bit of a bummer that the fountains weren't working, I'm sure a fine mist would have felt great:@)

Ola said...

I liked the park very much! We also had here a very hot and steamy weekend with big storms

Blog about life and travelling
Blog about cooking

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

When I think of Flushing Meadows, the US Open Tennis comes to mind for me. But my husband grew up in the north and remembers the Worlds Fair and has told me about it.

I've also read about the food at the Worlds Fair and it was there that many Americans first tasted French dishes such as coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon. Thank you for taking me there today Pat. I had no idea of it's size or scope.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

I am sure that the park is a welcome relief for many in the hot summers. I love the globe. Valerie

Tracy said...

WOW... so much of this was new to me, so great to see/read, Pat! And yes, have you thought of publishing a NY book?! It's been a dull, damp & rainy summer here so far... Shall I send some cool rain? :o) Happy Week, my friend ((HUGS))

Old Kitty said...

My goodness!! The Pieta!! I never knew that! How amazing and wonderful!! Now that's truly glorious and well worth seeing! Lovely!!

Your awful heatwave is news here too. I hope it doesn't last too long - I hope the rains come to ease up on the drought too! Take care

Sarah said...

Pat, this was fun! I was in high school in the 60s and fondly recall a family vacation to the east coast specifically to attend the World's Fair. It was my first visit to NYC. Thanks for the little trip down Memory Lane.
Stay cool........Sarah

Pondside said...

It's great when the legacy of a World's Fair is a wonderful place for people to enjoy for years afterwards.

SmilingSally said...

That is so blue-tiful!

New York offers so much!

Happy Blue Monday, Pat.

J.Rye said...

Such a beautiful place!

My BLUES please come and see. Have a fabulous Monday!

Nellie said...

Wonderful pictures! Our town hosted the 1982 World's Fair, and there is very little remaining of what was constructed for that event. It has seemed sad to me that things fell into such a state of disrepair.:( The area is often used for special events, however, and the fountains are operable. Part of the property was also the site of the new convention center.

You are a good ambassador for New York. I am motivated to visit after reading your blog.:)

nanny said...

Ditto all of the above....

I learn so much from your posts and really enjoy the pictures...

Gary said...

Great tour!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Leora said...

I've never been there, but I imagine my mother went, many years ago. Would love to see the U.S. Open instead of just watching on tv.

Lavender Cottage said...

The unisphere is a real work of art. I enjoyed your photos and learning about this part of NY.

Sylvia K said...

I love the unisphere and it is indeed a work of art! Marvelous captures for the day and what a terrific look at your world! I do love NYC, but haven't been there in years! Your post/photos are the next best thing! Have a great week!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very interesting journey very much.

Please have a wonderful Tuesday.

daily athens photo

Fun60 said...

I have heard of Flushing Meadows as I always watch the tennis grand slam on TV. However I never realised that it was so huge with so many different aspects to it. I thought it was just a tennis venue. Thank-you so much for the interesting and informing post.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

As soon as I saw that globe I knew it was from the NY World's Fair in 1964. I graduated from high school that year and my friend and I drove over to the fair. Actually, I did the driving and I'm surprised we're still not driving around in circles lost. Your post brought back so many memories. I remember the GE exhibit and I saw a couple of seconds of it on that one You Tube video. For some reason that one stuck out in my mind. I remember the seeing the Pieta statue at the fair and then seeing it again in 1970 at St. Peters. I thought that was kind of neat. Thanks for the memories.

What ever happened to the World's Fair? They seem to be a thing of the past now. It's too bad because I remember it being a lot of fun.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Wow! exciting photography and post ~~ thanks, ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

Sea Witch said...

Love this post. I, too, had many weekend visits to the World's Fair and we always visited the Pepsi Paviolion for the Small World ride. I adored the Unisphere for its beauty even as a child. I will always remember the energy and "quiet" of those who visited the Pieta in the Vatican Pavillion. It was always moving. Sea Witch

Carol said...

Love this post, I have so many fond memories of the NY World's Fair! Your post brought a big smile to my face.

Lisa @ Grandmas Briefs said...

Wow! I had no idea Queens had such a huge population. Great way to get out and explore...despite the heat. All places my husband and I would love to see. One day, for sure, one day.

Best wishes for beating the heat. What a crazy hot summer it's been.

chubskulit said...

Such a beautiful place!

Visiting from Blue Monday, here's my lovely BLUE. Your comment will be greatly appreciated!!

cassandrasminicorner said...

Great post! Like all the photos and your Blues:)

Visiting for Blue Monday- hope you can stop by..

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I almost feel like I visited the New York World Fair...even if it was a virtual visit. And it brought back many memories of my visits to the Vancouver World Fair in 1986. Thanks for taking us along with you!

Teacup-In-The-Garden said...

What a nice place!

Black Jack's Carol said...

I grew up in Montreal, and was lucky enough to visit New York City a few times. It has always been one of my favourite cities, and your blog really does it justice. Now, I'm living in Vancouver, BC, and I think I understand some of your experiences, as I explore, learn, admire, and feel I will never come to an end of the things to see.

Amish Stories said...

I remember somewhat when I was a young child going to the worlds fair in New York state. And our weather here in Pennsylvania has improved with our heat breaking that started this Monday. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,pa

Amish Stories said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cucina49 said...

Parks are the best places to go in super-balmy weather, as I remember from living in places where it was actually hot. What great photos. Hope you're staying cool!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

It's a small world has always been a favorite of mine... it's no wonder I have the travel bug.
Come by and see my 'big' announcement!

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

NYC should pay you for being an ambassador for the city. I know you do it because you like it but it is extremely well organized. Love this post. Thanks for stopping by my NOTW.
Neck of the woods.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Thanks everyone for yourt wonderful comments! I truly appreciate them!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing lesson this was! It would be a great place to visit. Your pictures are beautiful.

Susie said...

Pat, Your postings are informative and exciting to see. Thank you so much. I love that there is always something to do or some where to go around you. Smiles, Susie

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

So much to see and visit in NY. So much diversity makes everything more exciting. Different foods, gardens just about everything. Loved my visit to Queens this morning.

Yvette said...

I went to this World's Fair with the young man that I would eventually marry and later, after 24 years, divorce.

It was a fabulous experience and I think I still have some photos around here. I remember I wore a bright red wool blazer and I think, white jeans.

I do remember that globe. Good times.