4. The New York State Pavilion Was Used as a Roller Skating Rink
For a brief period following the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion was repurposed as an open-air concert venue: The Byrds, Fleetwood Mac, Santana and the Grateful Dead all played shows there. (According to a forum, a Led Zeppelin concert “was wild with people climbing ropes to sneak in a $3.50 GA concert.”)
From 1972 to 1974, the Pavilion temporarily housed a popular roller rink called the Roller Round. It was operated by Ohioans and newlyweds Robert Jelen and wife Christine, who had contacted the city with their proposal for what was to become Queens’ only outdoor roller skating rink. Although the idea was not well-received by all, the city needed more recreational facilities at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in addition to a supplementary source of revenue and someone to maintain the Pavilion. Thus, the plan for the roller rink pushed through, and the Texaco map was covered with a clear plastic coating to protect its surface from damage.
According to a 1970 article by the Long Island Post, admission was $1 with an extra 35 cents charge for skate rental. During its heyday, the rink welcomed more than 100,000 annual skaters before shuttering in 1974. At the time, a spokesman reported that the Jelens, “had not lived up to the terms of his contract which requires him to keep the building in good repair.”