The Park Restored

On Saturday, June 3, 1967, the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair Corporation returned the restored park, now called Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, to the Parks Department and the City of New York. The Fair had occupied the park for seven years. Even though the promised $50 million in funds for restoration and improvements did not materialize as a result of the Fair, Robert Moses was able to realize part of his dream of a great urban park in mid-Queens; for Flushing Meadows was much improved because of the second great fair to be held there.

In ceremonies that day, Moses said:

Robert Moses (front chair) at the ceremonies returning Flushing Meadows-Corona Park back to the City. (Photo courtesy of Gary Holmes)
 Robert Moses at dedication ceremony
"Guard it well, Mr. Mayor and Mr. Parks Commissioner. It has echoed to the sounds of many footsteps and voices. The world has beaten a path to its doors. Now we return it to the natives."

Robert Moses

June 3, 1967

Source: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Public Ceremonies Commemorative Book

Beauty for Ashes

Flushing Meadows Park Logo


A Statement by the Executive Committee

of the

New York World's Fair 1964-1965


IN RETURNING custody of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to Mayor John V. Lindsay and Commissioner August Heckscher of the City Department of Parks today, we chronicle three decades of unremitting effort to create for the City a modern,centrally located family park on what once was the domain of the Brooklyn Ash Removal Company.

The transformation of a monstrous ash dump into a fully equipped 1,258-acre park has been no easy task. It has taken more than thirty years to accomplish our goal.

To the legacies of two World's Fairs and a temporary World Capitol have been added, by the cooperation of many agencies, and interests, many new features described in the following pages. Other facilities can be added as the surrounding population grows and new funds become available.

We have sought, in the words of Isaiah, to give the City "beauty for ashes."


Thomas J. Deegan, Jr.

Remember the Fair?

Unisphere in restored Park 

"Remember the Fair?" who could forget it? Especially when it includes the symbolic Unisphere, built by United States Steel for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, and another piece of Fair sculpture, the bronze armillary sphere and sundial, embellished in gold with signs of the zodiac, by Paul Manship. It stands in Manship Pool in New Amsterdam Plaza, which is in front of the New York City Building. That structure, fairgoers may recall, was built for the first New York World's Fair in 1939-1940 and used in both fairs.

Now the fairgrounds have been transformed into a family park, as promised by Robert Moses. Officially named Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, it will be formally opened to the public June 3.

familiar surroundings

World's Fair site scene of varied activities and planned improvements

Grassy area that was Africa

Lots of lawn green on the former fairgrounds nowadays! You're looking northwest from the Africa pavilion area

Time Capsule Marker

Phillip Norton views granite marker for 1938 and 1965 Westinghouse Time Capsules to be opened in 5,000 years.

Look at the pictures ... See some familiar landmarks? You sure do if you were among the 51 million people who went to the New York World's Fair of 1964-65. This is how your old stomping grounds look in the spring of 1967. Study the colorfotos of the wide open spaces for a while and try to remember what pavilions and exhibits once stood where, now green grass grows all around. Find it kind of tough?

Today the place is a family park that goes by the official long-handled name of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Its opening is a promise redeemed by Fair President Robert Moses, who has long envisioned this meadow area of Queens as a permanent park dedicated to the pleasure of the public.

 Hall of Science

The Space Park and Hall of Science, holdovers from the Fair, look like this from the Top of the Fair Heliport.

 Space Park

This one looks as if the Fair never moved out! It is, of course, the Space Park, and it's still loaded with rocketry.

 Former Singer Bowl Arena

Capt. Fred Miller of security guards surveys the Arena, formerly Singer Bowl. It will be for special events, too.

Overview of Park from Heliport

Chrysler et al once occupied area east of the Heliport. Now it is being prepared for a zoo and an animal range.

PARKS ARE DESIGNED for recreational activity as well as for simple rest areas set amid natural greenery. Such is the case with the brand new Flushing Meadows-Corona Park developed on the site of New York's two world's fairs.

The activities available now, in preparation or on the planning board are many and varied. In addition to the Hall of Science, Space Park and planned zoo, all noted in the centerfold, this Queens family park offers swimming, fishing, boating, ice-skating, baseball and softball diamonds, basketball, boccie and handball courts, small fry playgrounds, a model planes airport, a pitch-putt golf course, athletic contests, band concerts, flower and plant exhibits and numerous special events. And don't forget adjacent Shea Stadium and the Flushing Bay Marina. Last, and most essential are plenty of eating facilities, picnic areas and comfort stations.


Boccie players enjoy game on site of Fair's Auto Thrill Show. N.Y. State's observation towers (rear) are open.

Playing Boccie


Mothers supervise their youngsters on one of the large playgrounds. City's Dept. of Parks operates the new park.

Joe Tardi, John O'Neill and Arthur Kiviette (l. to r.) play pitch-putt where Mormon and Gas pavilions once stood.

 Pitch-Putt Golf

Source: New York Sunday News, June 4, 1967
Photos: NEWS Colorfotos by William Klein and Patrick Carroll

The wild, wild East

New Queens Zoo ariel

The Queens Zoo covers 18 acres on site formerly occupied by World's Fair. In background is N.Y. State Pavilion

Sea Lion Pool

The sea lion pool was constructed to conform as closely as possible with fun-loving animals' natural element.

Bear Den

The bear den seems to be carved out of bruins' normal habitat. Zoo was designed to eliminate bars and cages.

IT TOOK 185 years for it to happen, but the borough of Queens can finally boast its own zoo. (Every other borough has had one for years.) The animal and bird sanctuary covers 18 acres of land occupied by two world's fairs.

The Queens Zoo, which officially opened on Oct. 26, cost $3.5 million. It adjoins the Children's Zoo, which threw open its doors last February. Most of the creatures on exhibit are housed in setting closely approximating their natural habitats. The zoo, which is located in the Flushing Meadows-Corona park, also features an insect house and a landscaped aviary.

Admission to the new modern and spacious Queens Zoo is free. It is open to the public every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and can easily be reached by taking the IRT Flushing subway line's local to the 111th Street station.

The popular Heckscher Children's Zoo adjoins the new Queens Zoo. It came into existence on Feb. 28, 1968.

Children's Zoo

Mrs. Patianna Gillette-Infante, the supervising menagerie keeper, makes friends with one of the deer at the zoo..

 Zoo Director

Source: New York Sunday News, December 29, 1968
Photos: NEWS Colorfotos by Robert Koller and Patrick Carroll

A Failed Plan

Proposed Park Plan

TIVOLI IN NEW YORK: Map of the park planned for Flushing Meadows on site of the 1964-65 World's Fair. Photo shows park today, with New York City Building in foreground.

Flushing Meadows Park Plan Delayed


A plan for Flushing Meadows Park by a prize-winning international design team is being delayed because the City Controller's office is refusing payment for the first stage of the work, pending required investigation of the architects' contracts and status.

The problem began last October, when the Parks Department, eager to acquire the best architectural talent available, hired the three architects without coordinating with the Controller's office. As a result, the necessary, but belated, investigation has forced the project to a standstill.

The payments are being held up because two of the celebrated architects are not registered in this state; a quibble about whether work by a landscape architects is architecture rather than landscape architecture and the auditing of bills by the Controller's office for "reasonableness."

Planners who have seen the design for the old World's Fair site call it a breakthrough. They believe that it is as important for New York in the 20th century as Olmsted's Central Park was in the 19th century.

The architects for the project are Marcel, Breuer & Associates of New York and Kenzo Tange of Tokyo, and the landscape architects are Lawrence Halprin & Associates of San Francisco.

The Park Department's action in hiring the architects last fall was the first here to offer increased fees and a more encouraging climate toward innovation by top architects. As a result, the city has begun to attract architects of outstanding reputation, among them Philip Johnson and Paul Rudolph. The city has also been experimenting with designs by young talent for parks and playgrounds.

The Flushing Meadows plan stresses activities rather than a pastoral quality. This form was chosen in response to the results of a survey of the needs of New York's most underprivileged areas. These needs go beyond the scarcity of open green space to the lack of recreational programs and facilities.

In an attempt to fill these requirements, the plan proposes a combination of landscaping and building for sports, entertainment and culture on every level from drag racing to little theater and picnicking.

There was some confusion yesterday about whether two famous structures of the World's Fair -- the Unisphere and the Federal Building -- would remain in the park. They were not on the tentative plan. The architects were out of town and could not be reached and their assistants warned against assuming that the absence of those buildings was an oversight. But Park Commissioner August Heckscher said that so far as he knew, the buildings would stay.

If the project proceeds into its final stages, it will provide outdoor playfields, indoor courts and an arts center. There will be a series of "adventure islands" in the existing lagoons. Some noisy activities would be sunk into landscaped earth "berms," in which protecting grassy slopes are raised at the edge of depressed playing fields.

Centered on Plaza

"Spines" of restaurants, eating bars, shops and concessions would connect buildings and outdoor activity areas. All would focus on a landscaped plaza, or central meeting place. The facilities would be intended for all-year, day and night use.

Mr. Breuer and Mr. Tange are working on designs for buildings for recreational and cultural activities within this scheme, as well as a swim-bath and sport stadium. Preliminary possibilities being studied for the site include ball games of all kinds, tennis, track, ice hockey, bowling, billiards, boxing, wrestling, judo, movies, theater, television and a discotheque.

To speed the job, design was begun on the park plan in January, three months after the announcement of the project. Work proceeded while the contracts were being prepared and the Corporation Counsel's office checked them. They were signed in May and registered by the Controller's office.

By this time, the architects had already finished six month's work, which included the first phase of the job, site programing and design. They are now well into the second phase, actual building design. And, despite the money problem, all three men are meeting in Tokyo this week to continue their collaboration on the park.

Even after the plans are approved and paid for, the project must get approval from other city agencies before the work can be carried on.

Source: New York Times, August 12, 1967 (Excerpted)
Photos: NEWS Colorfotos by William Klein and Patrick Carroll

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