Ruins of the ’64 New York World’s Fair

’64 New York World’s Fair ruin


Overlooking Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the empty viewing towers of the New York Pavilion are seen.

The bizarre remains of the “Tent of Tomorrow” in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are turning into a distant memory. Before Robert Moses, the great builder, set out to alter the region by choosing it as the location of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, this territory had been home to the Corona Ash Dumps, immortalised as the “valley of ashes” in The Great Gatsby. Although the park’s general layout was planned for the event in ’39, its most recognisable features date back to the exhibition in ’64. The New York Pavilion’s Space Age architecture was created to wow visitors with the promise of the future, but it now serves to firmly ground the building in the culture of the 1960s.

In its early years, the New York State Pavilion.

The tallest tower, at 226 feet, was the highest point in the fair.

Robert Moses once again served as the director of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, which was conceived by New York merchants and sponsored by private funding. Moses regarded the project as a chance to realise his vision for Flushing Meadows Park. In order to keep the fair financially viable, the organisers charged exhibitors rent and operated the attraction for two years while disobeying the rules set down by the Bureau of International Expositions, the global authority on world’s fairs. The upshot was that the BIE declined to approve the fair and told its forty members—including Canada, the majority of the European Nations, Australia, and the Soviet Union—not to attend.

On the metal parts of the building, there are still faint traces of the brilliant yellow paint.

Despite the fact that the fair’s theme was “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe,” most of the exhibitors were American businesses. The “Futurama” exhibit by General Motors, the first “It’s A Small World” ride at Disney, and a scale model of New York City (which is still on display at the Queens Museum of Art) were some of the most well-liked attractions. The fair attracted more than 51 million visitors, however the attendance was far lower than anticipated. The project was a financial catastrophe, giving bond holders just 20 cents of every dollar invested.

In the first Men In Black movie, the observation decks were transformed into spaceships.

Few of the World’s Fair pavilions were regarded worthy of becoming long-term features of the park, while the majority of them were temporary structures that were destroyed within six months of closure. The 12-story-high stainless steel Unisphere, which served as the fair’s focal point, is now a well-known representation of Queens. The “Tent of Tomorrow” and the neighbouring observation towers, both created by renowned modernist architect Philip Johnson, are still outstanding examples of the Space Age architecture the exhibition celebrated. Sadly, they have been abandoned for years and are now beginning to show their age. Stray cats and alarmingly large numbers of raccoons now reside in The Tent of Tomorrow, a venue that formerly held live concerts and thrilling displays.

The biggest cable suspension roof in the world record used to belong to The Tent of Tomorrow.

When the pavilion was rebuilt as the “Roller Round Skating Rink” in 1970, the city ordered the attraction to shut by 1974 because the roof tiles had become unstable. Due to their distinctive style, the buildings have appeared in the backdrop of several motion pictures, television programmes, and music videos. One notable appearance was as a setting and story point in the first Men in Black. In this They Might Be Giants video from the late 1980s, you can still clearly see the layout of the pavilion’s main floor, which was inspired by a map of the New York state highways.

A team of preservationists has worked to clean the outside of the New York State Pavilion, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 and partially restored to its original colour scheme. Here’s hope that something may be done to bring these unusual buildings back to use as the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair approaches.

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