Flushing Meadows-Corona Park has seen decades
of successes and setbacks since the Fair returned it to the City
in 1967. This aerial photo from the early seventies shows a maturing
park. The former Greyhound Pavilion, which occupied a plot just
below the T-shaped Heliport, has been razed. The Heliport has
become an exclusive banquet and catering facility called "Terrace
on the Park." And the zoo has become a reality in the area
formerly occupied by the Chrysler exhibit and bordering the Grand
Central Parkway. The Fair's "Churchill Center" geodesic
dome serves as an aviary.
In the mid-seventies, the City of New York
experienced a financial crisis that nearly drove it into bankruptcy.
The lack of money for public services had dire consequences for
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Basic maintenance services were
not performed due to lack of funds and cutbacks in city personnel
meant a lack of security patrols for the park. As a result, time,
neglect and vandalism took their toll -- a situation from which
the park is still recovering.
No use was ever found for the Federal Pavilion.
It was finally demolished in 1976 after vandals had nearly destroyed
it from the inside out. Neglect caused the roof of the New York
State Pavilion to become unsafe and it was removed in the mid-seventies.
The pavilion today stands neglected and unused, its fate undecided.
The arrival of the US Tennis Association
(USTA) at Flushing Meadows in 1977 provided a catalyst for a
turn-around. The former Singer Bowl arena became the Louis Armstrong
Stadium, initial site for the US Open held annually around Labor
Day. After USTA outgrew that facility, a new stadium, the Arthur
Ashe Stadium, was erected on the site where the Federal Pavilion
once stood; making use of the thousands of piles that were driven
there as supports. A casualty of the tennis area was the former
Press Building which was torn down in the mid-nineties to provide
an off-ramp into the USTA area from the Grand Central Parkway.
It had been used since 1967 by the Police Department.
The Amphitheater was another casualty of
time and neglect and was demolished in the mid-nineties as well.
The building, built for the '39 Fair, saw crowds and smiling
faces at the '64 Fair. But it had been closed for years and the
Parks Department could find no use for the structure. So, amid
howls of protest from preservationists, the structure was demolished.
Meadows-Corona Park Today is a
place of beauty and activity. The park has become a premier park
for the City of New York. The Fountains of the Continents and
Fountains of the Fairs have been restored. Unisphere has been
designated a Landmark and has undergone restoration as well.
The park is alive with the voices of laughter and enjoyment.
Courtesy of Fred Stern - Do not copy without permission
The Final Report
Nearly 3000 boxes of records,
correspondence, photographs, films, booklets and brochures were
shipped to the New York Public Library when the 1964-1965 New
York World's Fair Corporation was dissolved. They are stored
in the NYPL's "Special Collections" Department.
The 1964/1965 New York
World's Fair Corporation issued its final report in February,
1972 -- nearly seven years after the close of the Fair due to
lengthy legal battles with note holders.
From the final report:
The New York
World's Fair 1964-1965 officially closed to the public at 2:00
a.m. on October 18, 1965.
problems facing the Fair Corporation were demolition and restoration
and disposition of a substantial amount of pending litigation.
In the lease of the Fair site from the City of New York to the
Fair Corporation, it was provided that the site where the Fair
had been conducted, Flushing Meadow Park, was to be restored
to its original condition as a park and, after demolition and
restoration, returned to the City.
As soon as the
Fair ended, it was apparent that the demolition and restoration
could not be accomplished if the noteholders were paid in full.
The noteholders had, by that time, received a prepayment in 1964
of 25% of the principal, and interest had been paid up to date.
The notes were to become due August 1, 1966.
- Charles F.
Preusse, Counsel to the World's Fair Corp.
In the end, creditors were
paid 62.4% of their investment and the Fair's remaining assets
of $1.5 million were transferred to the City of New York for
From the final report:
A Fair is not
a business in the ordinary sense. The noteholders are largely
corporate exhibitors who in the end profit by the exposition
even if they don't recoup their entire note investment, and the
community, visitors from all over the country and foreign nations
gain immensely from a matchless voyage of discovery. Much remained
permanently when the Fair closed. As to the small minority of
acid skeptics, grouches and jaundiced-eyed grumblers, the public
pays them no mind. Critics build nothing.
To sum up, fair-minded
observers will concede that no World's Fair worth visiting can
return all direct and indirect subventions or repay all the cash
private noteholders who had sound business reasons for supporting
such a venture originally put into it. Business got its investments
back with interest in many ways. No employees, people of small
means or building contractors and subcontractors were dragooned
into contributing. In this instance the noteholders get back
62.4 cents on a dollar. After World's Fair One [the 1939/1940
New York World's Fair] they received forty percent.
- Robert Moses,
President of the World's Fair Corp.
Webmaster's Note... Many thanks to the contributors who made
this feature possible: Gary Holmes, who ran to his Grandmother's
house every day to retrieve the NY newspapers: Thank you for
sharing this history on-line. Bruce Mentone who climbed up into
his attic on a hot summer afternoon to find his demolition pictures
to share with you. Craig Bavaro for sharing the financial audits
of the Fair with me. No story of the Fair is complete without
mentioning that painful topic. Fred Stern and Bill Cotter for
loaning the wonderful aerials of the park restored. Phil Ras
for finding RM's Closing Day remarks. Thank you all for your
I know for many of you, the Fair
ended far too quickly. I hope this story of the restoration of
the Park helps to document, somewhat, an important chapter of
- Bill Young
- August 2, 2001