Today marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I must have driven past Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY hundreds of times, yet I’ve only visited this former site of the World’s Fair once – to visit the New York Hall of Science.
In 1964, the world was a different place and at the Fair a multitude of nations came together to showcase the best of what they had to offer in culture, technology, cuisine and more. My mom was lucky enough to go to the Fair a few times during its year-long run and it was here that she first tried Belgium waffles! It’s also where Michelangelo’s famous Pieta was displayed and where Walt Disney debuted the now iconic “It’s a Small World.”
Unfortunately one of the main exhibit sites – the New York State Pavilion has since fallen into disrepair and there has even been whispers of demolishing the Philip Johnson-designed structure. But a few intrepid New Yorkers have taken its restoration into their own hands and hopefully the structure will be revived rather than demolished. And for today only, people can actually go up into the structure as so many before them did 50 years ago. The window of opportunity is small (11AM-2PM) but pretty incredible. And if the preservationists have their way, this will hopefully be a glimpse of things to come.
I actually found an original New York World’s Fair program for sale at the library for $1 a few years back. It’s a fascinating look back at the hopes and dreams the World’s Fair brought to the masses. I wish I could have seen it in person, but alas I don’t have a time machine (wouldn’t that be something)! So for now I can at least hope to visit a restored Pavilion in the near future.