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« THEN AND NOW Photo Collection | Main | THEN AND NOW: 1964-65 New York World's Fair »

What Remains of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair?

In my last post I shared some Then and Now photos from my visit to the site of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. In this post I share a few things from the World's Fair that still remain on the site today.

The site is now a New York City public park called Flushing Meadows Corona Park. 

The park located in Queens was once the site of the Corona Ash Dumps which were characterized as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In the 1930s the dumps were cleaned up to make way for the 1939 New York World's Fair. Two World's Fairs on one site!

I was in Manhattan for the first time in a long time and decided to take the 7 train out to Flushing Meadows. The experience of arriving at the nearby train stop and seeing the iconic Unisphere is incredible. It's like arriving at Epcot and seeing Spaceship Earth. Once inside the park it's easy to spot the large sphere from almost anywhere.

The water pools from the fair still stand today. I imagine when it's not Winter they are actually full of water. Here we see the "Fountains of the Fairs".

I couldn't help but wonder if all the joggers, tennis players, and soccer players at the park knew the historical significance of the land they were enjoying.

These beautiful tile mosaics were exciting to discover. They have clearly seen better days. Turns out they aren't all that old. I believe they were added in the late 90s.

Take a close look at what I've circled here in front of General Electric's Progressland pavilion (home to Carousel of Progress). Drinking fountains and benches.

Some of them still stand today!

Several street markers still grace the curbing of the streets. Many of the World's Fair streets and their names remain unchanged.

"Court of the Universe" and the "Pool of Industry".

The most prominent structure from the fair that still remains is the New York State pavilion. It may look familiar if you've seen Men In Black or Iron Man 2. 

We see here how grand the pavilion looked during the fair.

Today it's closed to the public, rusted, full of weeds, and of course all of the colorful plexiglass tent panels are long-gone.

Apparently a bunch of cats have taken over. Distant cousins of the wild cats that live in Disneyland?

Just inside one of this gates I spotted this little sign. There's been much debate about what to do with the structure. 

The towers once offered World's Fair guests some amazing views of the fair grounds. Guest accessed the platforms via two "Skystreak" exterior elevators.

We learn the following from Queens Crap blog:

"After the fair ended in 1965, the steel-and-glass capsules were left at the mercy of decay and vandals - as one rusted away in a pit beneath the pavilion, and the other was stuck mid-rise at 150 feet. The city Parks Department stripped the pods off their cables in July 2008, fearing parts might blow off in strong winds. At the time, both were largely intact."

Sadly they are not "largely intact" anymore. I got a small glimpse between gaps in the fence at what remains of at least one of the elevators.

Across the path the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company buried a time capsule as part of their in exhibit it 1965. And get this. They buried a similar time capsule just ten feet away in 1938. Both were placed 50 feet into the ground.

A short walk away another piece of both fairs still stands. The building that is now the Queens Museum of Art was built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair. The building was home to the New York City Pavilion once again at the 1964-64 World's Fair.

I must thank @EPCOTExlorer for insisting I tour the Queens Museum of Art. I came upon a sign saying the museum was closed to the public that day and only open to school groups. I entered a side door to ask if I could use the restroom. The security guard said the main-level restrooms were closed due to some museum renovations. He was nice enough to point to an old-looking elevator and sent me to the upper-level restrooms. Inside this large elevator I was thrilled to find this model of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

I took only a couple photos. I figured I'd quickly use the restroom and make my way out of the closed museum without overstaying my welcome.

But of course I couldn't help myself. After returning to the elevator I decided to photograph the entire model the best I could.

Cute little Sky Ride.

General Electric's Carousel of Progress there in the center and Pepsi-Cola's It's a Small World on the lower right.

Ford Pavilion and its Magic Skyway.

State of Illinois and Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.

I then decided to photograph something else that had caught my eye off in the corner. A small collection of World's Fair memorabilia. I think I'll recreate that metal directional sign for my office. 

This wonderful concept art (framed on the right) shows part of General Motor's "Futurama" model of a futuristic city. Though none of this was built by Disney, it's often confused with what would later debut at Disneyland as the "Progress City" model. What's the dishwasher thing on the left? I don't know.

More info about the small museum exhibit.

On my way out I snuck into a large room to see something breathtaking. I had seen photos of this large panorama many times but didn't realize it belonged to the museum in which I was wandering. When I finally made it back to that side door I thanked the security guard and said, "I must pay admission because I enjoyed far too much of your museum." He said, "Not necessary but I can't let you leave without seeing the best part." He took me to a door that led to a much closer view of the New York City panorama. Could the model in the elevator be connected to this panorama?

Needless to say, the entire experience was somewhat sacred for this student of distant Disney history. I'm sure many little remnants of the World's Fair and Walt Disney's contribution to the fair remain at Flushing Meadows. Go find them!


Related posts:

THEN AND NOW: 1964-65 New York World's Fair
 '67 [Part 3]
Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It


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Reader Comments (133)

WoW, I was there today (6/22/17) on my bicycle, what a great flashback, I was 8 years old in 1964 and we went as a family often as we lived in western Nassau Co. This post helped me remember a Lot. Thanks

June 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

In 1964-65 I worked at the W.F. I also took my very young family there every weekend. We loved being their. I also received free tickets because I was working there. I had a ID that allowed me getting in any time that I wanted to. I had the free tickets for my wife and babies.
I just wish that I had a good camera in those days. ( turn back the clock)

July 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBernie Jacobs

I was searching for the year my aunt attended the fair to include in her obit. She was 93 when she died. We live in Cincinnati. My Grandmother and my aunt attended the 1939 World's Fair. I attended the 1964 World's Fair. This was fascinating to read. Thank you!

August 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNina

I loved riding the monorail around the top of the park, going to see It's a Small World, bringing home a small green plastic dinosaur from the Sinclair exhibit. but my favorite was--the underground house, with lights that dimmed outside the fake, painted windows when it was dusk.
I was 10 that summer, and our trip up to New York was my first plane ride. Each day that we were there was filled with wonder and excitement.

August 27, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterclare

I find it amazing how no one seems to care about the site. I am referring to those who can do something about it. I recall very vividly going there when I was in high school. I was amazed by all the really great things that were offered there. Now, it is a garbage dump. What a pity. They should just tear it all down. Either that, or some investor should buy it and fix it up. Not to it's former condition, but at least do something about the stuff that is still there. Fond memories.......

August 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSTADALBERTS

I can't tell you the emotions I experienced seeing these photos. We dis not have the most caring or attentive father, but one of the good memories I have from my childhood is my father taking us 3 kids to spend the day at the World's Fair. We were pretty young so specific memories are a bit sketchy, but some of the images in the pictures I do remember like the pavilion, the structures uses in a few movies, and that big world overhead...the size of things was overwhelming. And the number of people many. So sad to see what has happened over the years but at least something remains. Thank you.

September 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPete D.

My wife and I visited NYC from Australia in August. We were aware of the park but had no idea of its significance. A friendly shuttle bus driver suggested visiting Corona Park as we had a late check in at our Hotel in Brooklyn.
The moment we stepped out of the cab we knew 'something ' had happened here. We only got to spend a few hours at the park but found it fascinating. It wasn't until we got back to our hotel that I googled the history behind the park. I've now become obsessed!!
It will be the first place we visit if we come back!

October 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

I was 8 and have great memories of the worlds fair. So many happy times. Thanks for sharing.

October 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark T

I lived in Massapequa, Long Island as a child in the 1960's. I have four siblings and our parents took us to the NY World's Fair once in 1964, and once again in 1965. What fond memories have come back to me. The fascinating exhibits, the food, the music, and I do remember seeing Michaelangelo's beautiful sculpture, "The Pieta", and what a thrill that was. I remember having a Belgian waffle with a delicious whipped cream on top of it, tasted wonderful, but too rich to finish. I joined the military in 1979 and left NY, then after I got out of the military I moved to the Southern part of the U.S. and still live there, but I do miss NY and thank you so much for this NY World's Fair website, it brings tears to my eyes.

November 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRegina Elliott

Well done and so happy to see the information. I was fascinated with World Fair after discovering in 2012 while visiting friends in Queens. I'm in California. Long Story but I visited my days photographing after seeing photos in BW somewhere. You get lost in time when you walk around here. I take a friends dog here to run about and I photograph again and again. Over 300 pictures, here are just a few

December 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChuck Kuhn

Does anyone know if the museum would accept slides of the World's Fair (1964)? I've tried reaching out a few times but only get an autoreply by email and can't seem to get through on the telephone. I'd love to donate them to the museum if they'd take them. If not, if someone collects out there, contact me.

December 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterelaine

I worked at the GM Pavilion in 1964-65. what a great experience. I want to go back this year and see what is left. I have not been back since it closed.

March 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Joines

I’ve been collecting items from both NYWF’s since I was 16. I’m now 64 and have a huge collection.

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRuss

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