8. The New York State Pavilion Texaco Map Was the Largest Known Representation of any 50,000 Sq. Mile on Earth’s Surface
Now buried under sand, tarp, and gravel, the Texaco Terrazzo map was installed on the floor of the “Tent of Tomorrow” at the request of architect Philip Johnson. Covering 9,000 square feet and measuring 130 feet by 166 feet, the $1 million project was constructed out of 567 terrazzo mosaic panels, which each weighed 400 pounds (for a total weight of 114 tons). Only a few tiles have been preserved.
According to Rand McNally & Company, which supplied the topographic information for the map, the Texaco project was the largest known representation of any 50,000-square-mile area of the earth’s surface, featuring detailed highways, towns, cities, and the location of every Texaco gas station in the state. To produce the floor map, grid sections of a Texaco map were magnified 64 times; the scale was so large that local landmarks could have been recognized if they were placed on it. Had it not succumbed to decades of wear and tear, it would still remain the world’s largest single cartographic image to this day.
In 1970, five years after the World’s Fair, New York City considered removing the Texaco map for its reinstallation at the World Trade Center, which was under construction at the time. The map would have been incorporated into WTC’s grand courtyard, but due to objections from many groups, it remained at the Pavilion.
Six years following the Pavilion’s closure, the roof of the “Tent of Tomorrow” was declared unstable and its acrylic-colored panels were consequently removed due to safety concerns. With the Texaco map exposed to the ravages of weather, it ultimately fell into a state of severe decay before it was ultimately buried in 2009 to prevent further deterioration.