Flushing Meadows Park – World’s Fair tour

I normally wouldn’t tell you to go out of your way to visit this park. It’s somewhat worn around the edges due to lack of upkeep. The lawns are patchy in the summer and the fountain at the Unisphere now gets turned on only during the U.S. Open. It’s a shame given its potential to be a great park. The fact that it’s the fourth largest park in the city, and the largest park in Queens, ought to generate some civic pride, but alas, it doesn’t get the same respect as smaller green spaces in the wealthier parts of the city.

What this park does have going for it that’s unique and worth the trek out is its treasure trove of World’s Fair relics. The park was host to not one but two World’s Fairs – one in 1939 and the other in 1964. Most of you have probably seen the Unisphere and the strange rusty towers jutting into the sky on your way to and from LaGuardia, but have you ever taken the step to see these structures up close from the ground? Their imposing facades hide a rich history of people’s hopes and dreams from two different eras. What you learn about these structures might surprise you, and the key to unlocking their secrets is just a tour away!

The urban park rangers hold free scheduled tours of the World’s Fair sculptures and buildings scattered throughout the park. The tour is about 2 hours long and covers a lot of ground. Since I encourage people to get out there and actually do the tour, I won’t cover the details of the tour itself – only pictures from the tour that I took to whet your appetite!

There’s a family of red-tailed hawks that live on the Unisphere.  If you bring binoculars, you can spot their nest on  top of Portugal!

World's Fair Tour

This building is from the 1939 World’s Fair.  It used to house the United Nations.  It has definitely seen better days!

World's Fair Tour

I call these the mechanical mushrooms.  They are part of the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair.

World's Fair Tour

Also part of the Pavilion.

World's Fair Tour

I remember coming here as a kid to marvel at the beautiful colored tiles on the floor.  They formed the largest highway map of New York State.  Sadly, the tiles have since been removed.

World's Fair Tour

They dreamed of robots.

World's Fair Tour

Ethnic representation at the fair.

World's Fair Tour

The Rocket Thrower from the 1964 World’s Fair

World's Fair Tour

To see when the next tour takes place, go to the park’s calendar. The park is easily accessible by subway.  Take the 7 train and get off at Mets-Willets Point.  This is a long tour, so I strongly suggest sunscreen and water.

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One Response to “Flushing Meadows Park – World’s Fair tour”

  1. Frank paris Says:

    does anybody remember the metal mushrooms that you could clime up and sit on in the worlds fair grounds in 1961 to 1063

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