Technical Assistance

Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens

Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Park
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
1964-65 World’s Fair
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
1964-65 World’s Fair
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens
1964-65 World’s Fair

March 2014

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz asked the Conservancy to join a newly created Task Force to preserve and reuse the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. This coalition will guide the restoration of the pavilion, originally part of the 1964/65 World Fair and a very visible symbol of Queens and New York City.

During the past year, leading up to 50th anniversary of the opening of the Fair, there has been a groundswell of support for preserving rather than demolishing the buildings. A local group called “People for the Pavilion” has helped gain popular support for saving and reusing these symbols of New York. They are also working with the Borough President to develop a sustainable reuse plan to transform the site into a vibrant cultural space and park attraction. The Conservancy has been advising the young principals of this group since mid-2013.

At a March 14 meeting at her office, Katz told the Task Force members that she was thoroughly committed to saving the pavilion buildings and eventually reopening them to public use. She will request at least $14 million dollars from the city budget to start the process. A recent Parks Department study determined that the demolition of the structures would cost $14 million, so starting with that figure as a base, the Borough President will launch a stabilization project instead. Although the restoration will require many additional millions to complete, we see this as phased project that will take perhaps ten years to fully execute. There is no doubt that once completed it will become a huge draw and will attract large numbers to the park.

Some information on the Pavilion:
Following the successful design of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, Governor Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Philip Johnson to design the NYS Pavilion. Rockefeller instructed Johnson to design the largest and tallest pavilion at the fair to reflect the pride and accomplishments of the State that was hosting the Fair. The result was an ensemble of structures consisting of three parts: the observation towers, originally named “Astro View Towers” the great oval arena known as the “Tent of Tomorrow” and a smaller round building known originally as “Theaterama”. After the Fair closed it was decided to retain these buildings as an attraction in the park and as a permanent reminder of the great world’s fair. Of the three buildings, only the theater has been restored. It is now the Queens Theater. The other two more visible and iconic structures have been neglected and are deteriorating. The Buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places but are not yet NYC Landmarks.

The Borough President’s Task Force includes local elected leaders, representatives from the several community boards that border the Park, People for the Pavilions, Parks Department officials, and the Landmarks Conservancy.

Related story: Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair