Unisphere and New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Every time I go home, I pick a few new places to check out. Otherwise, I just get lost in my own nostalgia. On our last trip back to NYC, Queens was the “tourist” destination, specifically the Queens Museum of Art and the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The most famous bit of evidence of the World’s Fair is, of course, the Unisphere, a Space Age-era monument to global interdependence.

The structure was designed by Cornell-educated civil engineer and landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke. Go Big Red! At 140 feet tall, weighing 700,000 pounds, and with a diameter of 120 feet, this is the largest globe in the world and was constructed in 162 days. It’s surrounded by a reflecting pool and fountain, with the effect of the Earth floating in space, which we didn’t get to witness.

The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Three orbit rings encircle the globe, seemingly floating without any supports. Viewed up close, the continents exhibit some topographic-type dimension.

The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Michael Shrugged:

The Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

To see this iconic structure being built, check out the wacky and entertaining promotional film The Unisphere: Biggest World on Earth.

As a bonus, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park contains some other World’s Fair relics, notably the Philip Johnson-designed New York State Pavilion, which includes the skeleton of the Tent of Tomorrow, seen on the left below. The observation towers on the right were the fair’s tallest structures:

New York State Pavilion by Phillip Johnson

The tent originally sported a multi-colored fiberglass roof, the world’s biggest suspension roof at the time. After the World’s Fair, it was used as a concert venue and then as a skating rink. The roof was destroyed during the 1970s.

New York State Pavilion by Phillip Johnson

For me, the saddest aspect of this structure is the floor — a huge Rand McNally map of New York State made out of terrazzo. I got as close as I could, but I couldn’t actually see any part of the half-acre map:

New York State Pavilion by Phillip Johnson

After years of neglect, the map is in poor shape, but there are efforts to raise awareness and hopefully to conserve it. Looking at this historical photo, it’s easy to understand why this was one of the fair’s most popular attractions:

terrazzo map in the Tent of Tomorrow

I hope that the map will be saved, but what are the chances that we’ll ever be able to walk on it? Probably nil. For more images of the NYS Pavilion, check out a 360-degree panorama and New York Architecture.


13 thoughts on “Unisphere and New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

  1. This song has me reminiscing of hanging with my cousins, love it! I think we have a theme that needs to continue. Anyone else have videos of where The Unisphere appears?

  2. squael…I had a crush on Ma$e (that’s right Kesha it belongs to Bad Boy). This is making me miss 90s rap…and late 90s to mid 00s tv shows

    I think The Unisphere has some sort of awesome force that beams on all those who stand before it.

  3. Went to the Queens Theatre right nextdoor on Sunday with my friend Teresa to see a play called “Jackson Heights 3AM,” (which was superb), and we were both sad we had to jet rather quickly after to make a party. Looking around for a second, we both had the same thought about Flushing Meadows and all the things in it: “Why the hell don’t we come here more often?!”

  4. Pingback: Elsewhere | Visualingual

  5. Pingback: Elsewhere | Visualingual

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