Saturday, December 7, 2013

Corona Flushing Park: Stark Remnants of a Dying Dream

Last weekend I visited Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. This area is about 40 minutes from Manhattan on the 7 train and is the 4th largest park in New York City. I'll let Wikipedia tell you everything it contains, because copying and pasting is easy:

It contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the current venue for the U.S. Open tennis tournament;Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets baseball team; the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Theatre in the Park, the Queens Wildlife Center, and the New York State Pavilion. It formerly contained Shea Stadium, demolished in 2009.

Perhaps more notably, it was the site of both the 1939/1940 and the 1964/1965 World's Fairs. Before it was a fairground it was an ash dumping ground for coal furnaces. When F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to "The Valley Of Ashes" in The Great Gatsby, this is the area he was talking about. This is a very fitting connection because the site itself represents the unfulfilled dreams of American modernity and prosperity. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

The scenery of the park is, for the most part, bleak:

You might expect as much from a former fairground, but for an area that once held unprecedented wonders and a promise of a shining new era, it was surprisingly joyless. I was expecting some kitsch and manufactured nostalgia and I was disappointed to find none. The place is ripe with the history of the American spirit and I was ready to have it sold to me. The past is a spectacle to me and I am always ready to consume it. Why is there no business for exploiting the ignorance of people like me? 

Some features still remain:

If you've ever seen Men In Black, you are familiar with one of the highlights at the New York State Pavilion:

The Unisphere is also an attraction:

The only establishment I visited was the Queens Museum, which is really more of a contemporary gallery than a Museum. I enjoyed it thoroughly but was very displeased with the gift shop. I wanted an old-timey World's Fair poster and there were none to be had. I won't tell you about the Museum. They have a scale model of all 5 burroughs of NYC which is pretty cool but not worth posting pictures of. They have a website. You can go to it.

I plan on going back to this area because I find it fascinating so this might be a multi-post topic.  Maybe next time I'll find the poster shop.

1 comment:

  1. The Worlds Fair in my memory was the coolest thing. I guess the idea been supplanted by Disney theme parks etc, That seems really too bad.Although Disney certainly USES cutting edge technology, the Worlds Fair was all about informing people ABOUT the newest technologies and that was cool.