A Source of Regret

Post-Fair Engineer Report cover

"It is a source of regret to us that the Fair can not complete this great park so that nothing further will be required for many years. Every step we are taking however, follows an ultimate plan which is realizable in the not distant future ... We believe it is no exaggeration to say that two World's Fairs have produced here in the very center of New York, on the scene of a notorious ash dump, one of the very great municipal parks of our country."

Robert Moses

Post-Fair Engineering Report ... Flushing Meadow

July 23, 1965

As the Post-Fair Engineering Report ... Flushing Meadow was put to press, the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was struggling toward its conclusion. Over-estimation of attendance and reckless spending had nearly pushed the Fair into bankruptcy. It wasn't until the month of October that New Yorkers began to realize that their World's Fair was about to disappear from Flushing Meadow forever. If they were going to see it they'd better get out there soon! Record attendance during the last month of the Fair saved it from bankruptcy.

The Fair was temporary. Flushing Meadow Park was permanent. The infrastructure created for the Fair was put in place with the park in mind so that money spent would be of lasting benefit. But what of the "glorious nightmare" that had been the Fair's many pavilions? What could be salvaged from the exhibitors?

Inherent in the design and construction of the Post-Fair Park is the question of what buildings and structures should be retained for City Park use and related purposes. In this connection the Fair Corporation's planning for the Post-Fair Park has been based on the premise that buildings not useful for Park or closely related purposes do not belong in Flushing Meadow unless they are on the periphery reached independently of the Park interior road and path system.

A further important consideration is that if an exhibitor's building is to be converted for permanent use, funds for the conversion should be provided by the exhibitor, up to the amount he would otherwise be required to spend for demolition, with any additional funds being provided by a source other than the Fair Corporation.

The 1964-1965 Fair produced some exceptionally artistic pavilions and there have been many suggestions that some of them be kept permanently in the Park. However, these pavilions were built under a special Building Code as temporary special purpose structures and in almost all cases, conversion for permanent use would be prohibitively expensive and would serve no useful Park purpose.

Post-Fair Engineering Report ... Flushing Meadow

July 23, 1965

"The Mayor's Committee," appointed by Mayor Wagner in February, 1965 to determine what should remain of the Fair, dutifully followed their instructions and chose to recommend only a handful:

  • PERMANENT BUILDINGS FROM THE 1939-1940 WORLD'S FAIR
    • The City Building
    • The State Amphitheater
    • The Boathouse
  • BUILDINGS BUILT BY THE CITY OR FAIR FOR THE 1964-1965 WORLD'S FAIR
    • The Hall of Science
    • The Administration Building of the Queens Botanical Garden
    • The Singer Bowl
    • The Administration Building
    • The Post Office Building
    • The Entrance Building
    • The Maintenance Building
    • The Press Building
  • BUILDINGS BUILT BY EXHIBITORS
    • The Unisphere
    • The Heliport
    • The World's Fair Marina
    • The New York State Building
    • The Greyhound Building
    • The Ferris Wheel
    • The Japanese Wall

Suggested for retention

Exhibitors are responsible for demolition of their structures which they are required to remove to at least four feet below finished grade and restore the site to finished grade. Topsoil on the exhibitor's lot must be retained and replaced on the site following demolition. Planting of trees and shrubs suitable for use in the park will, so far as practicable, remain as permanent planting either in their present positions or on more suitable sites.

The Fair is responsible for demolition of all buildings, structures and appurtenances built or operated by the Fair Corporation which will not be retained in the Park. The demolition requirements for these structures are the same as for exhibitor buildings.

After demolition is completed, the disturbed areas will be top soiled, seeded and appropriately planted. These areas, for both passive and active recreational use, will be served by tree-lined walks for pedestrian and bicycle use. Many of the trees planted for the 1939-1940 Fair were saved and incorporated in the road and path systems of the 1964-1965 Fair, and thousands of new trees were planted for the 1964-1965 Fair along streets and paths and in open areas.

The preparation of plans for the removal, demolition and salvage operations will be completed by October 1, 1965, and exhibit removal and demolition operations will begin by November 1, 1965. By October, 1966, the Park Restoration will be substantially completed. On January 1, 1967, all work for which funds are available will be completed.

Post-Fair Engineering Report ... Flushing Meadow

July 23, 1965

More Content