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Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Photo by Bobby Das via Flickr

It’s day one of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. For urban explorers, the park has long held a special lore, with its layered history and abandoned structures. As you’ll see in this collection of secrets, its past and proposed future continue to reflect the push and pull of New York City development and most spectacularly its hidden spots may reveal themselves in centuries to come, or never again.

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The 1964 World’s Fair pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park by Philip Johnson is viewed by some as a symbol of past glory. To others, it’s just an old, decaying building that has been in the park for decades, prominently featured in the 90s science-fiction action-comedy Men in Black. To the “history nerds and World’s Fair geeks” that filled the Queens Theatre to witness the world premiere of director Matthew Silva’s fantastic new documentary Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion, the structure means so much more.

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The crumbling World’s Fair Pavilion is not the only concern for the future of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Numerous organizations, including NYC Parks, the Queens Museum, and the Design Trust for Public Space are seeking ways to better connect the park, traditionally cut off by highways and large-scale infrastructure, to neighboring communities. A new exhibit at Queens Museum displays concepts developed by the community in this latest civic-led approach to improvements in the park. Entitled You Are Here: Creating a New Approach to Civic Participation in the World’s Parkthe exhibition is the culmination of the first phase of The World’s Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with Its Neighbors, a community engagement partnership.

Below are four design concepts put forth in the presentation yesterday and on view at the Queens Museum through May 3rd.

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We’re pretty sure in New York City you can get any food you can dream up, and we credit that to the melting pot that the city is and its population that likes to push the boundaries. Here are 10 of the weirdest and most bizarre foods available here that will probably make you pucker up (or for some, make your taste buds water).

1. Live Octopus at Sik Gaek

Live Octopus-Sik Gaek-Flushing-Woodside-Bizarre Weird Foods-NYCPhoto via Yelp by Wing L.

Korean restaurant Sik Gaek has two locations, one in Woodside and one in Flushing. The real delicacy is the live octopus. Yes, it’s served to you squirming. People describe it as “chewy,” “slimy,” but also for some, their “favorite dish.” Make sure to call in advance if you want to order it, as it’s not always available.

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Robert Fein is one of the passionate members of the 3000+ group People for the New York State Pavilion on Facebook, supporting the preservation of the wonderfully Space Age structures in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park by Philip Johnson. In our previous coverage of this unique architectural landmark, we featured Fein’s then and now photographs of the pavilion when it was in use for the World’s Fair of 1964 compared to the deterioration state captured earlier this year. Now, he’s shared with us new photographs from inside the observation towers (made famous in Men in Black), following up an earlier exploration done by an Untapped Cities contributor.

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We’re going to venture a guess that even the NYC Parks Department was unprepared for the sheer number of people excited to catch a glimpse of the long-closed, and deteriorating New York Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair today. While press got early access (the only time we gladly relished the opportunity), the public lines stretched around the pavilion, across the elevated walkway over Grand Central to the Queens Zoo.

Thus far, we’ve been privy to Abandoned NYC’s haunting photos of the Philip Johnson structure, vintage photos that brought us back to the future, and a great mash-up of then & now images. Stepping into the space today, we were reminded of the more mundane things that have been left behind: signage reproduced from the time when it was a very active space for a short period of time.

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