Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Op-Ed: "The Fair Plus 50: Time to preserve icons of 1964" (New York Post, Tuesday, April 1)

Text and photos by George Molé

I was thrilled to have the New York Post run my opinion piece, "The Fair Plus 50: Time to preserve icons of 1964," in yesterday's edition (Tuesday, April 1).  As you might infer from the title, the piece advocates for preserving and restoring the landmarks of the 1964 New York World's Fair that are still to be found in Flushing Meadows Corona Park--most notably, the New York State Pavilion and the Fountain of the Planets (sometimes called the Pool of Industry).

This is a great cause, and I hope adding my voice helps it along.  You can click here to read the article.  And below are a few excerpts, with present-day photos of some of those landmarks. 

"I was amazed, several years ago, when my work took me to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, site of the Fair, for the first time in decades.  As I approached the walkway from the Willets Point subway station to the park entrance, I suddenly was three years old again, awash in a memory I didn’t know I had: We’d just gotten off one of the special blue-and-white Fair trains, kids in Hertz-provided strollers made to look like Corvettes, everyone making their way toward the Fair, inexpressible anticipation in the air . . ."


The New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere rise above the Number 7 subway line, as seen from Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.


The Fountain of the Planets (sometimes called the Pool of Industry).  The Fountain / Pool is actually a segment of the Flushing River, which is partially covered; the two openings in the wall, and two matching openings on the opposite side, allow the river to flow through.

"More recently, working inside the park, I came upon what looked like a duck pond surrounded by an iron fence — and then recalled standing by that fence in the dark as a kid, waiting for the fireworks to begin.  This was the Fountain of the Planets, a wonder of its time, where crowds were awed by nightly pyrotechnics combined with breathtaking water displays..."


The Fountain of the Planets / Pool of Industry, with the Unisphere visible in the background.  The island in the Fountain / Pool once held equipment used to create high-tech displays combining water, light and pyrotechnics.

"Many of the great corporations, thriving then, were at the Fair — Ford, Chrysler, Kodak, Sinclair, General Electric, DuPont — each with a spectacle that seemed like imagination itself.  Disney’s 'It’s a Small World' ride embodied the Fair’s motto of 'Peace Through Understanding.'

"Then there was the Vatican’s exhibit, in which people stood on moving walkways and were brought slowly past Michelangelo’s Pieta.."
 

Monument marking the site of the Vatican Pavilion.


New York State Pavilion.

"And the New York State Pavilion, with its three space-age towers and huge mosaic map of the Empire State...


New York State Pavilion.

"The iconic Unisphere is well-loved and well-kept..."


The Unisphere--"largest model of the Earth ever created."

"Fifty years since the Fair opened, you can still feel the electricity as you walk the park, on the same paths fairgoers strolled.  Yet too many of the treasures from that magic time have been left to deteriorate..."


This stone near the Fountain of the Planets marked the Court of the Universe, one of the "courts," or plazas, at the Fair.

"Imagine the park as it could be, a recreational oasis with some of its World’s Fair swagger restored.  Markers everywhere to show visitors the site’s history...


Time capsules deposited in 1938 and 1965, intended "to endure for 5,000 years."

But enough of these excerpts--if you find this topic as interesting and important as I do, go to the website of the New York Post--one of New York's, and America's, great newspapers--and read the whole article.  And then speak up for the preservation of these irreplaceable treasures--a good place to start is the website of the organization People for the Pavilion.

And then, since summer's coming, go explore the park yourself.  You'll find a bit of history around every bend in the path.

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1 Comments:

At April 3, 2014 at 5:25 PM , Blogger Barry Reitman said...

Another great piece, George. Thank you!

 

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