All's Bleak Now Where Fair Glittered

"All's Bleak Now Where Fair Glittered"

Ariel of June, 1966

In its two seasons the World's Fair chalked up an attendance of nearly 52,000,000 but right now the former fair grounds in Flushing Meadow Park are deserted except for workmen and bulldozers tearing down unwanted buildings originally erected for the fair. The grounds, which the World's Fair Corporation will return to the city as a restored park on Dec. 31, are not open to the public. The city will keep some 8 structures for the park, which may also have a zoo for small animals.

[Webmaster's note... The photo shown above, that accompanied this story, appeared in the Sunday News on June 26, 1966 -- over eight months after the close of the Fair. Most of the Fair has been demolished and the site is already looking like a park again. The Fair came down quickly, considering the contractual agreement with the Fair Corporation called for removal of pavilions within 90 days of the close of the Fair. The Fair Corporation asked for an initial extention of their deadline for occupancy of the Park until December 31, 1966 and asked for a second extention until December 31, 1967. In the end, the Park was returned to the city on June 3, 1967. What is interesting to note in this picture are the pavilions that remain -- prominent among them are the Transportation and Travel Pavilion (domed structure in the middle-left of the picture) and the Bourbon Street (Louisiana) Pavilion (just below New York State's "Tent of Tomorrow" structure). They were two of the exhibitors the Fair Corporation had to finance in order to keep them open during the 1965 season. I would guess that, if the picture was expanded, one might see many more pavilions that had not been demolished, such as Pavilion of American Interiors and the Hall of Education -- two other financial catastrophes of the Fair. It appears that the Fair Corporation was the last to remove the structures they were ultimately responsible to demolish.]

 Only Bulldozers Play At Fair Grounds Now


Where the World's Fair glittered and roared and happy crowds thronged a year ago, practically all is desolation today as demolition of unwanted buildings move ahead.

On a recent Sunday, a few boys taking potshots at pidgeons with rifles in the turnstyle area beneath the Van Wyck Expressway extension were the principal "visitors." In the once glamorous pool area where fireworks were displayed nightly, the only sign of life was an occasional gull.

The city wants the massive $12 million Federal Pavilion and is in negotiations about it with the federal govenrment.

What eventually will happen to the New York State Building is still uncertain. The Parks department has not yet decided whether it wants it or not. The state, a parks official explained, has offered to give the city $750,000 ear-marked for demolition, but Parks Department could use the money instead, to improve the building for permanent use.

The future of the heliport building is another unknown. This housed the Top of the Fair restaurant, now closed. Parks Commissioner Thomas P. F. Hoving has indicated he thinks the structure could be converted into a theater-restaurant that could be a tourist attraction for the city. He's still looking for a concessionaire.

If his plans fail to materialize, then Hoving would like to see the building torn down. But demolition would cost from $350,000 to $400,000, which presents another problem.

Source: Sunday News, June 26, 1966
Photo: Airview from NEWS plane by George Mattson; Al DeBello, pilot

Ariel of Fall, 1966
The demolition and restoration of Flushing Meadow Park was completed in the early part of 1967. On June 3, 1967, the Park was turned over to the City fully restored and in better condition than when the Fair Corporation took possession of it in 1960.
Restored Flushing Meadows circa 1967

These aerial photos of Flushing Meadow Park (above & below) were taken in 1967 just before the World's Fair Corporation returned Flushing Meadows back to the city. Note that most of the structures specified in the Post Fair Engineering Report were salvaged for use in the Post-Fair Flushing Meadow Park, including the Greyhound Pavilion. Exceptions were the US Rubber Ferris Wheel and the Japanese Wall. The Federal Pavilion, though not recommended for retention, was eventually retained.

(Photos courtesy of Bill Cotter)

Restored Flushing Meadows circa 1967

Following the close of the exposition period, the World's Fair Corporation proceeded with its demoliton and park restoration program. Under Article 15 of the Lease dated May 27, 1960 with the City of New York, the Fair had been required to complete its demolition and restoration program within four months after closing. The Corporation applied to and received an extension of time from the Board of Estimate until December 31, 1966. Then when the Fair Corporation realized that it could not complete its restoration program by December 31, 1966, the completion date was postponed until June 1, 1967. Section 1, Chapter 963 of the Laws of New York, 1964, authorized the Commissioner of Parks to permit the World's Fair Corporation to continue its restoration program until December 31, 1967, if necessary. On October 28, 1966, the World's Fair Corporation informed the Commissioner of Parks that the park restoration program would be completed by June 1, 1967 and the formal ceremony for turning over the site to the City was set for June 3, 1967.

Third Supplemental Report on New York World's Fair 1964-1965 Corporation Covering Operations from Inception to December 31, 1966

October 26, 1967

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