Image via worldsfairphotos.com: Bill Cotter
Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion is a major focal point of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. Designed by architect Philip Johnson, it brought millions of people together under its “Tent of Tomorrow” to celebrate culture, technology and the achievements of mankind. Even in its current state, the Pavilion – with its circular theater, three observations towers, and 100-foot high, elliptical ring – is a sight that’s hard to miss.
There has been plenty attention on the New York State Pavilion in recent years, which has sparked a formidable preservation movement that has not only prevented its demolition thus far, but also helped usher in much needed upgrades and public access events. Now, the City Reliquary Museum will hold an exhibition devoted exclusively to the monumental structure, opening on September 29th.
Curated by Sarah Celentano, the manager of The City Reliquary, Life Of An American Ruin: Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion will feature a number of displays, including archival images from Bill Cotter of worldsfairphotos.com, memorabilia from The Museum of Interesting Things, and photographs by Phil Buehler, Marco Catini, and Robert Fein, who has contributed numerous photographs to Untapped Cities’ coverage on the pavilion, like these wonderful then & now images and urban exploration shots inside the observation decks. An audio clip of a 1999 interview with Philip Johnson will also be available and a screening of the documentary Modern Ruin will take place at the opening reception on October 1st.
Image via Marco Catini
Years after the conclusion of the World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion remains structurally sound although still in need of costly repairs. In 2016, the National Trust for Historic Preservation sponsored an Ideas Competition asking the public to reinvent the New York State Pavilion architectural icon by developing new uses for it. According to recent studies, restoring the structure would cost an estimated $40 million dollars, while demolishing it entirely would cost $14 million. Alternatively, up to $72 million would be needed to reopen the structure and bring it back into operation.
Image via Phil Buehler
Strolling through the exhibition, visitors will get the opportunity to see the structure during its heyday at the World’s Fair, as well as in its present, ruined state. While vintage photos do exist online, the exhibition specifically asks viewers to consider the importance of ruins in the modern age, and whether or not an architectural icon should be reinvented to fit in the current cultural landscape.
Image via worldsfairphotos.com: Bill Cotter 1964/65
The opening reception for Life Of An American Ruin: Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion will be held on Saturday, October 1 at 7 PM. The screening of Modern Ruin will start 7:30 PM.
Next, check out the Ruins of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and discover the view Atop the Abandoned Towers of the 1964 World’s Fair NY State Pavilion. Keep up with the author @heysuehey.