Few traces remain of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair that attracted over 50 million visitors to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. However, last week the New York Parks Department started work to preserve the New York State Pavilion towers, one of the few standing remnants of the Fair.
The three towers of the pavilion served as observation decks and cafeterias during the Fair. The tallest, standing at 226 feet, offered the highest vantage point to observe the park. Like most of the other pavilions, the New York State Pavilion was slated to be demolished after the Fair’s end. However, the it proved too expensive to tear down the towers. Since then, the space age-era structure has remained largely untouched and has deteriorated significantly.
Previous efforts to preserve the towers failed due to lack of funding, and many had called for the pavilion to be demolished. However, in 2017, the project received $14.25 million from the city and the borough of Queens. Today, the project has a total budget of $24 million. The money will be used to waterproof the base of the towers, replace the stairs, install architectural lighting, and ensure the structural integrity of the towers. The project will not make the towers accessible to visitors.
At the groundbreaking ceremony last Friday, Queens Borough President Melina Katz noted the importance of preserving the towers. “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,” she said.
The project is expected to be completed in March 2021.