Saturday, November 11, 2006

One of New York City's Biggest Shames


We love Flushing Meadows Park and, in particular, the handful of surviving relics from the 1939-40 and 1964-65 Worlds Fairs. We've photographed them in detail. (And we love the Queens Museum with it's cool exhibitions and historic setting.) One of the park's outrages is the way in which the former New York State Pavilion has been allowed to rot and deteriorate over a period of more than 40 years. It is a New York City landmark and one that has both historic significance in terms of the role it played in the 64-65 Fair and it that it is a creation of the late Phillip Johnson. Today's New York Times details the sad saga of the former pavilion and its continued deterioration:
Once there were elevators gliding up the sides of the towers to reveal a city unfolding; now they are rusted in mid-rise. Once there were stairwells winding within those towers; now they are rotted through. The call for a better tomorrow, for “Peace Through Understanding,” is answered by the flutter and coo of its hidden inhabitants.

Seeing again the New York State Pavilion, the massive space-age remnant of the 1964 World’s Fair that looms just beyond the Grand Central Parkway, seeing it in all its premature decrepitude, you cannot help but wonder: If this was built to evoke the future, then may the gods have mercy on us all.

The city’s neglect of this gift bequeathed to it in 1967 has long been a prominent embarrassment, the elephant in the room that is the borough of Queens.

One of our fondest wishes is that someone step forward to save this building and to repurpose it as a museum or venue or peformance space and that a wealthy patron who might have gone to the World's Fair and wants to do something for the city invest some money in it. Of course, we say this because we have no hope the city itself will do the right thing and invest in this landmark. It is wonderful that a new $62 million rink and pool are opening in the park, but the Pavillion should be a priority too.


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