The future of the New York State Pavilion, an abandoned remnant of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, looks a little brighter. The New York City Parks Department just broke ground on a $24 million project to preserve the historic pavilion and its accompanying observation towers. The project, the first major effort to preserve the site since its construction, entails structural work and the addition of a brand new lighting system that will illuminate the structures like never before.
Made up of the “Tent of Tomorrow” and three towers, The New York State Pavilion was built for the 1964/1965 World’s Fair, the second and final World’s Fair hosted in Queens. The magnificent “Tent of Tomorrow,” a round enclosure encircled by sixteen, 100-foot columns and topped by a 50,000 square-foot roof of multi-colored fiber-glass panels, was designed by Philip Johnson. The floor of the Tent was covered with “The Texaco Road Map,” a large-scale map of New York State made up of terrazzo tiles, only a few of which remain. Inside the shorter observation towers there were cafeterias for the fair, and the tallest tower, as the highest point of the fair, held an observation deck. The New York State Pavilion also included the adjacent “Theaterama,” which exhibited pop art works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The space was converted to the Queens Playhouse in 1972 and continued to operate until 1985.
There have been many community efforts over the decades to restore the Pavilion to its former glory, including projects completed by the New York State Pavilion Paint Project. This groundbreaking kicks off a massive restoration project that will preserve the iconic structure and add dynamic architectural lighting. Work will include waterproofing of the tower bases, stair replacement, electrical upgrades and structural conservation work on the observation towers. The $24 million project is funded by a $13.1 million allocation from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, $9 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and $1.9 million from Council Member Francisco Moya.
Present at the groundbreaking were NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens Community Board 7 Parks Chair Kim Ohanian, and members of People for the Pavilion, Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy and Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. All present expressed excitement for the renovations. “The New York State Pavilion is an iconic symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair that keeps us connected to our city’s rich history,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “We are excited to restore this historic structure for the enjoyment of New Yorkers and visitors. Thanks to funding from Borough President Katz, Mayor de Blasio, and Council Member Moya, this treasured landmark will continue to serve as a symbol of Queens for generations to come.”
Architectural Lighting Rendering, Courtesy of Silman and NYC Parks
“The work we are breaking ground on today will go a long way toward restoring the iconic New York State Pavilion to its former glory,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “This work will enable future generations to continue to enjoy the Pavilion’s distinctive Space Age architecture and be reminded about the important role the 1964-65 World’s Fair played in Queens history. It has been a privilege to work with our partners in government to preserve the Pavilion.”
The multi-million dollar project will bring some much needed love and care to the historic Pavilion, and help make it a destination New Yorkers can enjoy once again. To see the Pavilion in its current state, and other treasures left behind from both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, you can join Untapped New York on one of our upcoming Remnants of the World’s Fair walking tours led by our Chief Experience Office Justin Rivers!