The 1939 World’s Fair in New York City may have the longer legacy in our collective memory, with its forward-looking Futurama exhibit, but it’s the 1964 World’s Fair which remains in our built environment. With a theme of “Peace Through Understanding,” the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair became the second world’s fair to be held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It led to the creation of the iconic Unisphere, the New York State Pavilion, and the observatory towers, made famous in the film Men in Black.
While many of the pavilions were relocated elsewhere, the New York State Pavilion remained (mostly) intact for several years before falling victim to architectural decay. The “Tent of Tomorrow” is currently missing its original roof and its floor, which once featured a map of New York, is unrecognizable. Despite being listed as an historic place, a campaign to save the pavilion makes it clear that it is in need of serious repair. Other structures have been repurposed, such as the heliport which is now “Terrace on the Park,” and the Cicarama which was turned into the Queens Theatre.
Fun fact: Walt Disney Productions showcased new attractions such as “It’s a Small World” and “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” which went on to become classics at Walt Disney World. The fair itself also played an influential role in the creation of the theme park.
See how the former site of the two fairs looked during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair:
New York State Pavilion
Pan American Highway Gardens
Pepsi-Cola Pavilion (Disney)
Chrysler Corporation Exhibit
Aerial view of parking lot
Photos from the New York Public Library.