Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Readers continue to share their World’s Fair memories


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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KATRINA MEDOFF

In anticipation of NYC Parks’ World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, which will be held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday, May 18, readers of The Queens Courier have been sharing their World’s Fair memories and memorabilia with us.

Belle Chameides, 93, went to both the 1939-40 and the 1964-65 World’s Fairs.

“I just loved it and I enjoyed going back many times to visit it,” the Little Neck resident said.

She recalls enjoying World’s Fair festivities with her older sister, Anita Lee, and her twin sister, Shirley.

She sent The Queens Courier memorabilia from both Fairs: a flag and pins from 1940, and tickets from 1964-65.

Reader Dotty Sodano was about 20 when she worked as part of the stenographic pool in the Administration Building of the Fair.

Sodano started working in the office in 1963, the year before the Fair opened, and she remembers that there was a countdown in the office until the Fair’s opening day.

“It was a fun place to work,” Sodano said.

She wrote to The Queens Courier to share her World’s Fair memories:

“I was employed in the Administration Building at the World’s Fair from 1963 to 1965, working on occasion for [Vice President] Stuart Constable and President Robert Moses.

“It was a privilege to be present the day that Gen. Douglas MacArthur visited the Fair. I am actually in a photo that was taken of him and the office staff while he was being greeted by Gen. William Potter. The photo appeared in a pamphlet which I kept all of these years. He also visited the large-scale table model of the entire World’s Fair, which I still remember as being an impressive sight.

“One of the perks of working there was walking around on our lunch hour visiting the many extraordinary pavilions and exhibits. There were people of all nationalities enjoying the sites (which may be common today, but not then). The Walt Disney salute to the children of the world was most enjoyable, as were the international exhibits; and Michelangelo’s Pieta left a lasting impression.

“It’s hard to believe that was fifty years ago. As a young woman, it was certainly a great place to work and a most memorable time of my life!

“Sincerely,
“Dotty Sodano”

The pamphlet featuring Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s visit to the World’s Fair, courtesy of Dotty Sodano.

 

WORLD’S FAIR SUBMISSIONS CALL

Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park?

If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two.

Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361.

Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: A new old way to look at the New York State Pavilion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Natali S. Bravo

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

 

Many people dream of time travel, but Rego Park freelance photographer Natali Bravo has actually completed a photo essay through time.

Using a 1964 World’s Fair Kodak camera and vintage film, Bravo captured the opening of the New York State Pavilion to the public last month through the same lens that people a half-century ago would have been able to use. She developed and released the photos exclusively to The Courier for readers to view.

Bravo, who is also a camera collector, found the old Kodak being sold online from a woman in Virginia in February. It was a bargain at $25, as currently, the rare camera runs for about five times that price on average on eBay.

About two months later, the shutterbug found someone selling six rolls of vintage film for just $35. And a week after that, she learned that the New York State Pavilion — a space-like relic left over from the 1964-65 World’s Fair — would be opening to the public for the first time in decades.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bravo said. “I had the camera and the film, so the universe was telling me something here.”
She seized the opportunity to capture the event with her vintage Kodak.

With her half-century-old Kodak slung by her side, Bravo shot 39 frames from the camera of the pavilion, politicians and people viewing the wonders of the structure.

The Darkroom, a business in California, developed the images, which revealed rich black-and-white shots of the modern day pavilion opening, making the event look as though it took place 50 years ago.

Bravo felt delighted to know that she was able to shoot photos the same way people did decades ago.

“For a photographer traveling is very significant,” Bravo said. “To be able to travel through time is beyond words.”

 

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Star of Queens: Mitch Silverstein, co-founder, New York State Pavilion Paint Project


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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COMMUNITY SERVICE: Mitch Silverstein is co-founder of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a volunteer group dedicated to maintaining the 1964-65 World’s Fair figure in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park through painting and other upkeep projects.

BACKGROUND: Born in Brooklyn, Silverstein, 55, moved to Long Island in 1963. He has fond memories of visiting the World’s Fair as a child. In addition to his Pavilion work, the event also inspired him to study science and become a biologist. Today, Silverstein lives in Rockland County, N.Y., but “gladly commutes” to Queens for his Paint Project work.

GOALS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The New York State Pavilion Paint Project started in 2009, when co-founder John Piro wanted to repaint its stripes after the structure had been neglected. At first it was just the two of them, but there is now a core group of five to eight, with as many as 10 volunteers at a time.

“We figured that the paint would not only improve the park and the Pavilion, but it was also a form of advocacy. It was a hope for the future,” Silverstein said.

The group also does cleanup and minor repairs. It recently helped open up the Pavilion to the public for the first time in decades, after Piro approached the Parks Department with the idea. On April 22, on the fair’s 50th anniversary, around 2,000 came to the event, according to Silverstein.

He said the group hopes to continue helping the Pavilion “look nice” and “keep its dignity.” Silverstein, along with Piro and another group member, is part of a task force put together by Borough President Melinda Katz to create a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

INSPIRATION: Silverstein is inspired by his desire to see the Pavilion preserved and other groups that are advocating for the structure and are supportive of his own group’s work.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: One step forward was when Borough President Melinda Katz declared she was dedicated to preserving the Pavilion, Silverstein said, but support and funding from multiple sources will likely be needed to stabilize and ultimately save it.

 

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Man gets 25 years for fatal stabbing of fellow parks worker in Flushing Meadows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A former city Parks Department worker was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stabbing another employee to death during a fight at a Flushing recreation center.

Robert Swann, 53, of Ozone Park, was found guilty earlier this month of first-degree manslaughter, District Attorney Richard Brown said. He received the maximum prison term with his sentence.

According to trial testimony, Swann stabbed the victim, Ezra Black, 31, in the front torso on the afternoon of September 4, 2012 during a fight at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  Swann allegedly told police that after he stabbed Black, he left the scene, and got rid of the knife and the clothing he was wearing in a field near the park.

Both men were seasonal Parks Department workers, according to Brown.

 

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More readers share their World’s Fair memories


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of reader Dean Psomiades/Photos by Bill Psomiades

KATRINA MEDOFF

NYC Parks’ World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, which will be held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Sunday, May 18, will bring to Queens a day of food, rides, live entertainment and World’s Fair memorabilia.

In the meantime, many of our readers have been sharing their fond memories of the 1964-65 World’s Fair with The Queens Courier.

“I remember walking to the Fair from my house in Forest Hills,” said Marc Young, who was 12 at the time. “My friend, Richard Lerman, and I would spend the entire day at the Fair going on the rides and seeing shows and exhibits.”

They would take $10 or $12 with them to spend all day at the fair, Young said, but one day, they ran out of money.

“We were hungry and wanted dinner, but we didn’t want to go home,” Young said. “Luckily, we met up with some classmates at the Chun King restaurant. They had a dinner plate for 99 cents. My friend, Susan Katz, loaned us money so we could eat.”

So Young and Lerman stayed at the fair to go on the Ford Motor Company ride, which usually had a long line. “You got to sit in a car, and it went through the history of car making,” Young remembered. “Everyone wanted to go on it, since it was an actual ride and everyone liked those things.”

Young and his friend had to wait until 9 p.m. to get on the ride, and by the time the ride was over and they had walked back to the main gate, the kids’ dads were there with two police officers.

“It was going toward 10 o’clock and we had been there since 10 in the morning,” Young said. “They were waiting there getting ready to search for us.”

Young recalls that “The walk home was a little longer that night!”

Reader John Dallal of Howard Beach, N.Y., submitted a poem about his World’s Fair experience:

I loved the World’s Fair!

It was awesome! I was there…

And, truthfully, can attest

That, for me, it was the best

For a young mind to explore

What the future had in store.

Futurama, by GM,

Was a ride that turned a bend…

To display for searching eyes

A look beneath tomorrow’s skies.

And the Vatican display

Of the Pieta made my day

More enhanced. And, now, for me

There’s a lovely memory

Of a place: a joy! a treat-

One I wish I could repeat!

But I’m glad I got to know,

Without match, such a wondrous show!

At the time of the fair, Dallal lived in Bellerose, and was 18.

He, like many of our readers, remembers Disney’s Carousel of Progress in the GM pavilion, where he “sat in a seat seeing what was in the future,” he said. Dallal believes that the World’s Fair was the first time he saw a push-button telephone.

Dallal’s wife, Mary Ann, also has memories of the fair. Like many World’s Fair visitors, “my wife remembered the Belgian waffles,” Dallal said.

“I do have fond memories from that time,” Dallal said. “I was hoping they were going to repeat it. But I was just happy to be a part of it.”

WORLD’S FAIR SUBMISSIONS CALL

Did you or someone you know attend the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park?

If yes, The Queens Courier is asking you to share your memorabilia and/or memories with us to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary this April. You could win a dinner for two.

Please email your entries to editorial@queenscourier.com with the subject line “World’s Fair Anniversary” or to Editorial, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361.

Note: All photos/items become property of The Queens Courier.

 

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Quiz asks: What NYC park are you?


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

With hundreds of parks in New York City, it is hard to find the right one to call your own.

The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation just put up a quick quiz on its website to match individuals with a local green space based on likes such as favorite food, book and vacation spot. 

Will you be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park or another Queens greenery?

To find out, take the quiz here.

 

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Officials announce events to mark World’s Fair anniversary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The “world’s borough” is ready for its six-month-long anniversary party.

Officials unveiled a long lineup of Queens events and cultural exhibits Friday to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the 1964 and 1939 World’s Fairs held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Festivities begin in April and include 50-cent rides on the historic carousel and a rare tour of the iconic New York State Pavilion.

“Both [fairs] were seminal events that had wide impacts locally, nationally and internationally,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “As borough president, there isn’t anybody I speak to about the World’s Fair that doesn’t have a story about it.”

An official opening ceremony will take place at the Pavilion April 22. Visitors will be given a rare chance to slap on hard hats and tour the fair icon.

Revelers in the borough can also visit the park, near the Unisphere, May 18 for a full day of festivities and the Queens Museum for a peek into Andy Warhol’s controversial project, which was painted over before the 1964 fair’s opening day.

“With these anniversary events, we will take a look back at the fairs and a look forward to the future of Flushing Meadows – the world’s park and Queens’ backyard,” said Liam Kavanagh, the Parks Department’s first deputy commissioner.

For a full list of borough-wide events, click here.

 

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NYS Pavilion to open to public on 50th anniversary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

pavilion

The public will be able to get an up-close look at the  New York State Pavilion next month on the 50th anniversary of the structure’s opening.

New York State Pavilion Paint Project Crew, a group that has been painting and caring for the site since 2009, just announced that on April 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the north gate of the Pavilion will be opened to allow limited access for visitors to view and take photos of the inside of the structure.

The Paint Project Crew, which helped make the opening possible along with the Parks Department, will be around to answer questions and speak about the Pavilion’s past, present and future.

RSVPs are not required. Visitors will need to wear hard hats, which will be provided.

Along with the Pavilion Paint Project Crew, community leaders and elected officials have also been advocating for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair figure’s restoration.

Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Pavilion is in need of both external and internal repairs.

In November, the Parks Department released plans to restore it, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. An option to tear it down would cost about $14 million.

Last month, Borough President Melinda Katz declared her support for saving the structure and said she would form a task force, consisting of elected officials, community leaders and advocates, who will meet regularly at Queens Borough Hall to create a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

The first of those meetings was held on Friday, March 14, which resulted in attendees agreeing to continue working on a viable plan for the Pavilion.

Katz included the site as part of her approved package of expense and capital budget priorities for the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

It calls for $45 million in combined capital funds from state and city over four years for restoring the Pavilion, according to a spokesperson for Katz’s office.

Those funds will immediately go toward needs, such as upgrading the electrical system and installing a roof over the three towers to prevent further structural damage.

“We’re very excited to see that the borough president feels strongly enough about the project to take action and we’re just excited to see what comes of it,” said Matthew Silva, co-founder of People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site’s restoration.

 

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Sen. Tony Avella, park advocates sue to stop Citi Field mega mall


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy NYCEDC

State Senator Tony Avella and a long list of Queens park advocates are suing the city to stop a mega mall from coming to Citi Field.

The 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center is part of a major $3 billion project by Sterling Equities and Related Companies to redevelop Willets Point.

The ambitious and controversial plan, approved Oct. 9 by the City Council, also includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land and the eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

The group filed the suit Feb. 10 in New York County Supreme Court, saying the project cannot proceed without state Legislature approval under a doctrine that protects state parkland.

The suit also seeks annulments of city approvals.

“It’s a serious principle here,” Avella said. “If the city is allowed to get away with this, what’s to stop them next time? If we keep giving it away, someday we’ll wake up and there will be no parks.”

 

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Queens Museum “emPOWER”s families of children with autism locally and in Spain


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of emPOWER Parents photography team

Parents and families of children with autism from Queens are now making a connection to those in Spain, thanks to a $73,000 grant.

The Queens Museum, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, received a 2013 Museums Connect grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums. The grant permits the Museum to launch “emPOWER Parents: Fostering Cross Cultural Networks between Families with Autism.”

EmPOWER is a partnership between the Queens Museum and Museo ICO and its cultural partner, Hablarenarte, in Madrid, Spain. The partnership uses the arts, art therapy and technology to create and put into effect crucial programming for families of children with autism. It also creates an international network and “digital bridge” where the families can share their experiences.

The Queens Museum has been creating programming for children and adults with special needs since 1983 through its ArtAccess program. Since then, the museum’s autism initiatives, through contribution from partner organizations and participants, have been adapted for museum settings, public libraries and schools. Now through emPOWER, the initiatives will enter a new phase allowing parents to design resources based on their needs.

The bi-national network of emPOWER is made up of parent advocates and allows parents of children with autism to have the resources to affect institutionalized change in both countries, request improved programming in schools and include their children’s learning styles in community programs. Participating parents gain skills in teaching and behavioral methods and lead programs with other local families. They maintain and broadcast resources in both English and Spanish, sharing their knowledge and creative interventions by parents via a blog site.

The museum will hold closed sessions for emPOWER once a month. For more information visit here.

 

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Katz commits to restoring NY State Pavilion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Borough President Melinda Katz, on a tour of the New York State Pavilion Thursday, said she wanted to save the site.

KATELYN DI SALVO

Borough President Melinda Katz is saying yes to saving the iconic New York State Pavilion.

The NYC Parks Department released plans last fall for both restoring and potentially tearing down the deteriorating 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair figure.

Cost estimates to fix the Pavilion, which includes the Observation Towers and the Tent of Tomorrow, start at $43 million.

An option to knock it down would cost about $14 million.

During a tour of the site on Thursday in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Katz said that $14 million should be spent on repairing, not destroying, it.

“Let’s take that money and put it towards this project,” she said.

Other local politicians, civic and cultural leaders, community board members and Parks Department officials joined Katz on the tour to get a closer look at the site.

Repairs include the cable roof system in the Tent of Tomorrow, the concrete columns and stabilization of the wood pilings in the Tent, as well as basic utility work, said Meira Berkower, director of planning for the Parks Department.

Katz said she will be forming a task force, consisting of elected officials,  community leaders and advocates, who will meet regularly at Queens Borough Hall to create a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

“Give me a month to figure out the ‘who what where and when,’” she said, adding it’s important to restore the outside for “safety reasons.”

People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site, is excited about the participation of the borough president and other local electeds in the project.

“Moving forward, we want to continue to raise the profile of the building and educate the community, said People for the Pavilion member Matthew Silva. “We will be doing public programming celebrating its 50th anniversary so people can see what happened here 50 years ago.”

 

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Star of Queens: Jean. C. Silva, president, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Jean. C. Silva is the president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, a civic association that is dedicated in preserving, restoring and maintaining the natural, historic and cultural integrity of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

BACKGROUND: Silva was born and raised in Brooklyn, and then moved to Queens. After spending most of her time and effort working in Manhattan, Silva decided she should put more time into her own community and got involved with the Conservancy. She has been the president of the organization since November, 2011.

“In 2004, I met Patricia Dolan [while] volunteering at the Queens Community House, and she was the person who got me involved in the Conservancy,” said Silva.

GOALS: In the coming year, Silva plans on preserving and maintaining the natural and cultural virtue of the park, in order to ensure the park’s educational, environmental and recreational benefits for all users.

“We would like to work with the Parks Department in continuing to preserve and maintain the Pat Dolan Trail with our hikes, field trips and bird watching.”

BEST MEMORY: Silva’s fondest memory is watching people’s reaction when entering Willow Lake, a hidden treasure smack in the middle of two major highways, the Van Wyck Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway.

“It’s like a different world, it’s so quiet, soothing, and peaceful, you feel like you’re not even in Queens,” she said.

Silva remembered seeing a variety of different birds migrating south, and even a muskrat while on the Pat Dolan Trail.

“We have a lot of different animals here, and some of them you would never think would be here in Queens. It’s like you’re really in the country.”

INSPIRATION: Silva’s biggest inspiration was working with the Parks Department to get Willow Lake open again. It took 18 years, but the organization was able to do it, and renamed the trail the Pat Dolan Trail in remembrance of the founder, Patricia Dolan, who had been killed in a tragic car accident in November 2011.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Silva says Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is underutilized and underfunded and she wants to change that. She also mentioned potential plans to restore the New York State Pavilion and her hopes to bring it back to its glory.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Periods of snow. Snow will be heavy at times especially this morning. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph. Snow accumulating 5 to 8 inches. Monday night: Scattered snow flurries and snow showers possible this evening. Becoming mostly clear later. Low 24. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: World Ice Arena at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Bring your friends, bring a scarf and gloves and remember to lace up tight! Ice skating season has begun at World Ice Arena at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park! Admission is $5 for all ages on weekdays and $8 on weekends and holidays. To rent skates be sure to bring socks and an additional $5. Monday through Friday the rink is open from 9 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. On weekends it is open: 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday nights; noon. until 4:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. until 9:50 p.m. Saturdays and noon  until 4:45 on Sundays. Information is subject to change, to inquire about any changes call 718-760-9001. World Ice Arena is located at Avery Avenue and 131st Street Flushing. Submit an event of your own

Winter storm warning issued; 5 to 8 inches expected

More snow is on its way for New York City, just as Staten Island Chuck predicted six more weeks of winter. Read more: The Queens Courier 

32-year-old man arrested in Sunnyside hit-and-run of four pedestrians

A 32-year-old Jackson Heights man was arrested Sunday in connection to a hit-and-run in Sunnyside Saturday night that left five people in the hospital. Read more: The Queens Courier

Cuomo may have Senate votes to block de Blasio’s pre-K tax hike

Gov. Cuomo, aided by a coalition of Senate Republicans and upstate Democrats, will defeat Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to raise taxes to fund universal pre-K this year, a leading legislative Democrat has told The Post. Read more: New York Post 

Transit woes, mild temperatures mark Super Bowl XLVIII

The first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl in the nation’s most congested region confounded skeptics on the first count, as unseasonably warm temperatures served as a pleasant backdrop for Sunday’s NFL title game. Read more: NBC New York

Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in Manhattan apartment

He was only 46, busy as ever and secure in his standing as one of the world’s greatest actors. Read more: AP

Public comes out to support restoring NY State Pavilion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of People for the New York State Pavilion Facebook page

As the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair is set to mark its 50th anniversary, the Parks Department and an advocacy group are asking the community to share its vision for one of the event’s iconic structures.

The New York State Pavilion, located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, is in need of both external and internal repairs. In November, the Parks Department released plans to restore it, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. An option to tear it down would cost about $14 million.

The Parks Department gave three public presentations this past week on those plans.

“Nearly everyone who attended the visioning sessions favored preserving or restoring the Pavilion,” a Parks Department spokesperson said.

An online survey will be posted on the Department’s website until March 15 for those who weren’t able to come. The Parks Department will then meet with elected officials to discuss funding options.

People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site, held its own event on Saturday, January 25 on the history of the structure and to get feedback on its future.

Close to 300 people attended, and were enthusiastic about saving the structure, People For the Pavilion member Matthew Silva said. The group would like to hold similar events in the future.

“We want to work hand in hand with the Parks Department in supporting their efforts,” said Silva.

One idea suggested at that meeting was to spruce up the Pavilion with paint, and possibly lighting, he said. “It would be a step in the right direction,” Silva said, adding smaller restorations would change its public perception and help it from deteriorating.

Silva has also created a film to help the effort. “MODERN RUIN: A World’s Fair Pavilion” chronicles the history of the structure from its debut at the World’s Fair to its years of neglect.

To complete post production, Silva needs $10,000 and has started a fundraiser through Kickstarter to reach that goal.

11-18-13 NYS Pavilion Borough Board Presentation

Courtesy of NYC Parks Department


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