Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Plans for Willets Point mega mall blocked by appellate court

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

An appellate court blocked developers of proposed mega mall Willets West last week from using designated parkland without legislative approval, creating a major bump in the road to the project’s construction.

The Supreme Court had previously ruled on Aug. 21, 2014, in favor of the developers, Queens Development Group, who were co-defendants with the city in the suit. That decision was made on the grounds that the development was legal under a 1961 law written to allow for the construction of Shea Stadium on parkland, and effectively dismissed a suit aiming to block the development brought by state Senator Tony Avella and park advocates.

The four appellate judges overturned the Supreme Court on July 2 and unanimously agreed that the project cannot be legally built on the site because it is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Queens Development Group did not undergo a process called alienation, which allows a municipality to transfer parkland to a nonpublic entity. In this process the municipality must receive prior authorization from the state in the form of legislation enacted by the New York State Legislature and approved by the governor.

Justice Angela Mazzarelli wrote that the law allowing for the construction of Shea Stadium on parkland did not exempt any future projects from having to undergo the proper approval process.

“No reasonable reading of Administrative Code section 18-118 allows for the conclusion that the legislature in 1961 contemplated, much less gave permission for, a shopping mall, unrelated to the anticipated stadium, to be constructed in the park,” said Mazzarelli.

Avella and the leader of civic group Willets Point United, Gerald Antonacci, were glad to have claimed a victory after such a long fight.

“Since 2007, we have battled the city at all times over its plans for Willets Point, which expanded in 2012 against the community’s wishes to include the gigantic proposed ‘Willets West’ mall on public parkland,” said Antonacci. “Today the Appellate Division agrees with what we’ve said all along: The city and developers failed to follow lawful procedure and now as a result their whole project cannot proceed.”

“The fact of the matter is, this land was intended to be parkland, not the development of a shopping mall,” said Avella. “In a city where public land is in short supply, simply handing parkland over is a betrayal of trust.”

Willets West was proposed as the first phase of a major two-part rehabilitation plan for Willets Point which would have seen a retail mall and movie theater constructed on 30.7 acres of parking lot adjacent to Citi Field. These first steps toward redevelopment were to begin in 2015, and would have also included major infrastructure updates, including the remediation of 23 acres of Willets Point, the installation of sewage systems, roads and ramps to access local highways, parking spaces, and the development of a 200-room hotel.

The second phase of the Willets Point development was expected to commence in 2026, and involved the construction of mixed-income housing, a public school and additional acres of open space.

In an emailed statement, Queens Development Group said they would appeal the decision.

“This decision, which overturns a well-reasoned decision of the New York Supreme Court, blocks a plan that has been embraced by a wide variety of stakeholders from the City Council to civic groups to labor organizations and others,” said a spokesperson for Queens Development Group. “We believe the Appellate Division Court misinterpreted the statute, improperly narrowing the broad authority it conveyed which would result in an unacceptable status quo, instead of enabling a widely supported investment that will reverse 100 years of pollution and create thousands of much-needed good paying jobs.”


Gilbert Gottfried to headline charity event at Queens Theatre

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Writer's Guild of America East

Comedian, actor and voice artist Gilbert Gottfried will be lending his talents to help the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps raise money as part of their “Laughter is the Best Medicine…Take 2″ charity event.

Hosted by comedian Joe Mylonas, the comedy show will take place at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturday, August 22. Comedians Robyn Schall and Just Plain Keith will open for Gottfried and the night will also feature a live auction hosted by comic auctioneer Marc Zakarin.

Some of Gottfried’s most notable roles include the parrot Iago in Aladdin, the Aflac duck and a reoccurring guest role on Hollywood Squares. He began doing standup in New York City at 15 and in 1980 had a brief stint as a cast member on the sixth season of “Saturday Night Live.”

The comedy show is slated to start at 7 p.m. and tickets are selling for $40 to $50. The auction starts at 6:30 p.m. with a showing at 6 p.m.

A free shuttle bus to the event will also be provided from the 7 train at the Mets/Willets Point station.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 718-793-2055 or visit www.fhvac.org.


US Open job fair to be held July 7 for Queens residents

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

For those whose summer plans aren’t already set, how about working at the U.S. Open for two weeks?

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) will be hosting its fifth annual U.S. Open job fair on July 7 and 8, and the organization is showing love to Queens residents by giving them the first crack at available positions.

The job fair will begin at the Sheraton LaGuardia East in Flushing on July 7 from 2 to 7 p.m., and will be reserved for Queens residents that day. The fair will be open to the entire public on July 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“For the two weeks of the U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows is the center of the sports world, and we’re delighted to once again to provide our Queens neighbors and tri-state residents with the chance to be part of the excitement and fun,” said Danny Zausner, COO of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Last year, more than 1,200 job-seekers from the five boroughs and the tri-state area came out looking for positions, which include guest services, facility operations, cooks, concession stand attendants, drivers, maintenance crew, security, cashiers and customer service representatives.

For those unable to attend the job fair, there will still be an opportunity to apply for positions. Applications at the U.S. Open will be accepted through August and details about the jobs can be found on the USTA’s website.

The 2015 U.S. Open will run from August 31 until September 13.


Exhibition on World’s Fair architecture at Queens College

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Godwin-Ternbach Museum

When attendees reminisce about the 1964-65 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, they often think about the Ford Mustang, the Belgian waffle and the Unisphere, which made their United States debuts then.

Similarly, when people discuss the 1939-40 World’s Fair, which took place in the same Queens green space, they chat about the air conditioner, color photographs and nylon pencil sharpeners, which were first unveiled there.

But one of the most enduring legacies of these events — the architecture — was ridiculed at the time and then ignored by critics.

In fact, the first fair’s Art Deco designs, the monumental pavilions of fascist Italy and communist Russia, and the modernist structures of Alvar Aalto and Oscar Niemeyer had tremendous, lasting impact on the architectural field, as did the second fair’s corporate modernism and the postmodernism of Philip C. Johnson and Edward Durell Stone.

On June 29, Queens College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum launches Persuasive Images, an exhibition consisting of more than 100 photographs depicting rarely seen images of structures built for the fairs that were selected from an array of local, national and international archives.

With these photos, the show also strives to provide new insight into the significance and power of world expositions.

“An important part of Queens history that has been lost will be recovered in the exhibition,” said Godwin-Ternbach Director Amy Winter.

The show runs until July 27 with an opening reception on July 9.


Queens Museum lit orange for gun violence awareness following vigil

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The “World’s Borough” came together Monday night to honor the nine lives lost in last week’s South Carolina church shooting, and show the rest of the nation that a diverse community can unite as one.

Elected officials, local community and religious leaders, and families of victims of gun violence gathered in front of the Queens Museum during a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of gun violence throughout the borough, and paying tribute to the nine people shot and killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.

“We are the borough of Queens, we are 130 languages spoken in our school system, we hail from over 120 countries and you know what? We take the greatest pride in that diversity. We are proud and we stand together to say that gun violence, especially racist terrorist gun violence, will not be tolerated and we will stand together to send that message,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.

Monday night also marked the first of nine nights that the front exterior of the Queens Museum will be illuminated in orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month. Through June 30, an average of about 168,000 motorists per day will be able to see the museum as they drive by on the Grand Central Parkway.


“I hope the orange glow of the museum’s façade this evening will remember each of the passing motorists of our collective responsibilities,” said Laura Raicovich, executive director of the Queens Museum.

Those present during the interfaith vigil included local religious leaders who each voiced the importance of coming together to fight for the end of gun violence. Pastor Richard Hogan of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Jamaica and father of Laseam Hogan, who was killed in 2010 at the age of 27, also led the group in a prayer.

“We come here to launch a movement. We’ve been moving but we need a movement, a movement against gun violence. This is not a movement of just some folk but it has to be a movement of all folk,” said Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt of the Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral of New York in Jamaica. “We are all impacted. Bullets do not respect age, [do] not respect denomination, faith, tradition, socio-economic background. We have to come together.”

At the end of the night, family members of victims of gun violence read out names of their lost friends, husbands, sons, daughters and other loved ones.

“We commit to continue to be the trailblazers in the borough of Queens and make sure that as the Queens division of the crisis management system, we will show the world how people from different races, people from different ideologies, people from different nationalities, people from different beliefs, and walks and everything that you can think of can come together and change the culture of violence and stop the epidemic of violence from spreading and killing our children and destroying our families,” said Erica Ford, CEO and founder of LIFE Camp Inc., a group founded in 2002 with the mission of teaching violence prevention in schools.


Queens Courier reporter challenges Queens 10K

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy NYRR

A challenge of speed this was not.

I quickly realized the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Queens 10K would have talented, serious marathoners when about 9,000 runners gathered at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday despite a night of rain and threatening gray skies above.

Thankfully the forecasted showers held off, but my finish time of 48:52 shouldn’t be considered fast when the male first-place finisher Ayele Megersa Feisa clocked in at 30:14 minutes and female winner Etaferahu Temesgen finished at 33:16.

I ran in part to see if the NYRR met its self-regulated goal to produce a race that promotes and represents the borough. And kudos to NYRR for keeping the 6.2-mile race in Flushing Meadows for more than two decades as it highlights many of Queens’ jewels on the course.

“The park has so many beautiful iconic structures,” said Peter Ciaccia, NYRR’s president, events and TCS New York City Marathon race director. “To go through the whole course and see the museum, see the Unisphere, run past Citi Field, it’s pretty cool.”

Running around this landmark-filled green space is like a trip to a museum, and this year competitors raced through a transforming park.

We passed the expanding Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and enormous cranes roofing Arthur Ashe Stadium. We saw the New York State Pavilion, which is being rehabilitated, and curved around Meadow Lake, which is being restored.

Then there’s Citi Field, where the New York Mets have been rebuilding for some time, and towards the end, we wrapped around the revitalized Queens Museum, and passed by the Unisphere — the “World’s Borough’s” symbol — before coming to the finish line.

It is undoubtedly a fun race that showcases much of what the borough has to offer, but the truth is the Queens 10K can still do more to accentuate Queens.

Those familiar with Queens know its famous structures well, but for foreigners of the borough, if some signage existed along the course maybe it would help runners develop further interest in them.

And while the Queens 10K serves as the borough’s representative in the Five-Borough Series, I found it weird that Queens — the largest borough by land mass — has the shortest race. I was told for logistical reasons it wouldn’t be a good idea to expand the race in Flushing Meadows. But because it is smaller it is viewed as an easier event for some running clubs.

I had one problem with the actually course road itself: there were crater-size pot holes around the Meadow Lake section that we had to hop and dodge. The Parks Department should take care of that before next year’s event.

Post-race, there was a fun festival with games for children, a raffle and food vendors. It’s a brilliant idea, but while there was an array of food trucks that frequent Manhattan, I was disappointed that Queens’ reputation as being a hot spot for diverse food wasn’t highlighted by the inclusion of more local food businesses.

The 7 train’s reputation for being shoddy was witnessed by many runners though. The Flushing-bound line had delays that prevented some runners from getting to the starting line on time. This isn’t helpful to promote the race or the borough. While the NYRR is not at fault, it did acknowledge the problem and is trying to appease affected runners.

Recognizing that the race could use a tune-up, next year the NYRR will turn to local runners to find ways to add even more Queens spirit to the event.

“There are a couple of running clubs out here in Queens that are interested [in showcasing the borough more],” Ciaccia said, “so I want to work with them over the course of this year and see what tweaks they are interested in.”


Queens mourns Charleston massacre victims at vigil tonight

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Flushing Meadows Corona Park will play host to an interfaith prayer vigil this evening for the nine victims gunned down Wednesday night at a Charleston, S.C., church.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials are expected to participate in the ceremony that will take place at 8 p.m. in front of the Queens Museum, located a short distance from the Unisphere.

According to Katz’s office, the vigil will honor the memory of the Charleston massacre victims while also demonstrating support for efforts to stop gun violence. The museum’s exterior, visible to drivers on the Grand Central Parkway, will be illuminated in orange through June 30 as part of Gun Violence Awareness Month.

The massacre occurred Wednesday night during Bible study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. The alleged gunman — Dylann Roof, 21, who has ties to white supremacist groups — sat in the class for an hour before fatally shooting the church’s pastor— Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator — and eight others, all of whom were black.

Roof, who reportedly made racially charged statements and uttered epithets immediately before and during the shooting, was caught the following day in North Carolina.

Among those joining Katz at the vigil include Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown; Assistant Chief David Barrere, commander of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South; Rabbi Robin Fryer Bodzin of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism; Dr. Ghassan Elcheikhali of the Razi School in Woodside; and Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in St. Albans.

Greater Allen Cathedral held a similar rally on Saturday in St. Albans attended by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who condemned the massacre as “an act of domestic … and racist terrorism.” Joining Pastor Floyd Flake and other community leaders, the mayor said the city would continue working toward eradicating racism and building a society based on social and economic fairness and justice.

“The only way change has been made in this country is by those willing to stare fear in the face,” de Blasio said. “Terror cannot break the back of this community. It cannot break the back of the A.M.E. church. It cannot break the back of peace-loving people. We will continue to build the society we believe in.”


Silver anniversary for Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival at Flushing Meadows

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


The 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival returns to Meadow Lake at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Aug. 8 and 9.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (HKDBF-NY) is the biggest multicultural festival in New York and the largest of its kind in the U.S. The HKDBF-NY uses the tradition of dragon boat racing. Teak boats are custom-made by craftsman in Hong Kong, which are piloted by 20 crewman. For 24 years, the HKDBF-NY has attracted a multicultural audience throughout North America of more than 50,000 attendees.

This year’s 25th anniversary festival is expected to draw fierce competition with more than 2,500 participants competing. The festival takes place on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, with an opening day parade at noon on Aug. 8.

Racing begins at 9 a.m. and events will last until approximately 5 p.m. on both days. Various events for the whole family are held during the U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championships, including a photo contest, the traditional dragon dance, music and other diverse performances, and demonstrations of arts and crafts.

Six new 10-person boats from China and several Special/Invitational Cup races are planned for this year’s races. The races include the 25th Anniversary Invitational, the HSBC 150th Invitational, and the Municipal Invitational race with teams from elected officials.

Many officials were invited to field a team, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Grace Meng and Assemblyman Ron Kim, as well as NYC government agencies. Teams are expected to race for their companies in the Corporate Invitational.

“The board and I are very proud and excited to have been a part of the growth of the festival from ten boats on the Hudson 25 years ago when the festival began, to commemorate the opening of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, to this year’s festival with over 200 teams participating in celebration of the 25th anniversary. HKDBF-NY has become one of the largest international dragon boat festivals in the world and a much-anticipated event on NYC’s summer calendar,” said Henry Wan, chairman of the HKDBF-NY board.

The tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the idealistic poet Quan Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against his emperor’s policies. Locals raced in their boats in an effort to rescue the poet. The locals splashed their paddles and beat their drums to prevent his body from being eaten, which led to the beginning of dragon boat racing.

Parking is very limited, so attendees are urged to use public transportation. Attendees can take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point stop, and transfer from there to special MTA shuttle buses that will take them directly to the festival site.


Final steel beam installed for U.S. Open retractable roof atop Arthur Ashe Stadium

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The final steel beam for the Arthur Ashe Stadium retractable roof at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was installed on Wednesday in a topping ceremony, culminating more than a decade of studies and planning to cover the U.S. Open’s main court.

The retractable roof is the centerpiece of a more than $500 million project to expand the tennis center, which includes two new stadiums and an expanded south campus. The roof, designed by Rossetti and built by Hunt Construction Group, is the first in the country to be constructed over an existing stadium, officials said.

“If you’re flying into LaGuardia, if you’re riding by on the Grand Central [Parkway], it’s looming, it’s huge, and it is the major piece, but we are doing much, much more,” said Gordon Smith, COO of the United States Tennis Association. “We are completely reimagining the tennis center. We want nothing less than the vision of this facility being the finest tennis venue in the world and the preeminent sports facility in New York City.”

In total, 5,000 tons of steel were used for the roof, which is held up by eight large columns around the 24,000-seat stadium. Because the roof doesn’t sit directly on the stadium, Arthur Ashe will still feel like an outdoor court when it is opened, and at the promenade level fans will still be able to see the Manhattan skyline, according to officials.

During inclement weather, the retractable roof will be able to close in five to seven minutes. The covering for the roof is expected to be installed after this year’s U.S. Open, and the structure will be functional for the 2016 U.S. Open.

In the coming weeks, the giant cranes that were used to build the roof’s frame will be removed and preparation for the 2015 U.S. Open will begin.

Also, four new LED scoreboards will be installed in the stadium and a fabric covering will be placed over part of the stadium to block “strange” shadows from the roof’s steel skeleton.

The USTA completed the first phase of its expansion plan last year, which included new courts 4, 5 and 6, and two-story viewing bleachers that created a three-court stadium viewing experience for fans. The elevated seating area holds more than 1,300 fans, and Court 5 became the U.S. Open’s seventh television court.

The USTA also recently started construction on its new Grandstand Stadium at the south portion of the campus, which will have 8,000 seats, and replace the current 6,000-seat court of the same name that is connected to the Louis Armstrong Stadium. That new Grandstand Stadium will debut in time for the 2016 U.S. Open along with expanded walkways in the south area of the tennis center.

The smaller courts on the south portion of the campus will also be rebuilt next year.

Following the 2016 U.S. Open, the USTA will tear down and starting building a new 14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. That stadium is currently planned to have a roof as well and is expected to be ready for the 2018 U.S. Open.


PHOTOS: World’s Fair Anniversary Festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Zerline Alvarez

After a week of gloomy weather, the sun came out in time for the celebration of the World’s Fairs at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday.

The free event, like the one that was held last year to mark the opening of the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs, once again honored the historic festivals with music, food and activities.

Both the young and old came out for the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, where kids were able to enjoy half-priced carousel rides, puppet shows, face painting, strolling magicians and more.

Those who still remember the World’s Fair or who wanted to know what it was like to be in Flushing Meadows during the events decades earlier got the chance to take tours of historic sites that are still in the park and displays of memorabilia. Another throwback feature at the festival included a classic car show courtesy of Broadway Stages and the Argento family.

There were also performances throughout the day, highlighted by a SummerStage concert featuring Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Hollis Brown and Damien Escobar.

And who can forget the food. Belgian waffles were introduced to the U.S. at the 1964 World’s Fair and were served at this year’s festival. Fairgoers were also offered international bites from the LIC Flea Food Market.

Click through the photo gallery below to see the activities from the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival:


Hillary Clinton visits Queens for campaign fundraiser

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Victoria Schneps-Yunis

Updated 3:22 p.m.

Former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared at Terrace on the Park Monday afternoon for a lucrative fundraiser in her honor.

Rep. Joe Crowley, leader of the Queens County Democratic Party, and Rep. Grace Meng held the $2,700-per-plate campaign luncheon in support of Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

It was the second of three fundraisers held for Clinton in the New York City area; earlier in the afternoon, she stopped by a Manhattan function held by former New York State first lady Silda Wall Spitzer. Following her appearance at the venue inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Clinton headed off to a private fundraiser at the home of Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs.

All told, the “Hillary for America” campaign reportedly raised $275,000 at the Queens fundraiser. According to the New York Daily News, Clinton is rumored to be planning an official campaign launch later this month on Roosevelt Island.

Former President Bill Clinton was not with candidate Clinton at Monday’s event.

Prominent Democrats from across Queens joined Crowley and Meng at the Clinton fundraiser, including Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, former Borough President Claire Shulman and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Polls point to Hillary Clinton as the prohibitive front-runner in the 2016 Democratic race. Two rivals, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.


Queens Museum plays host to July art conference

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@queensmuseum

Educators, curators and artists from across the globe will convene at the Queens Museum for a July weekend conference on art and culture in American life.

The USSEA (United States Society for Education through Art) Regional Conference will take place from July 17-19 at the museum, located in the former New York City Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Themed “An inclusive world: Bridging communities,” the conference will feature more than 65 sessions involving local, national and international museum educators, art teachers, professors and artists focused on examining how the fine arts and culture and taught in classrooms, museums and local art organizations.

Four keynote speakers will be featured at the conference: Sherry Huss, vice president of Maker Media and co-creator of the Maker Faire; Tom di Maria, director of the Creative Growth Art Center; Tim Rollins, founder of the Art and Knowledge workshop in the Bronx; and Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Registration for the conference includes breakfast and lunch in the museum cafe, an opening reception and a weekend pass to the adjacent New York Hall of Science. Special shuttle buses to and from the Mets-Willets Point station is also part of the package.

Fees range from $45 for college students with current ID to $85 for non-USSEA members. Click here for more information.


Flushing Meadows to hold free World’s Fair Anniversary Festival this June

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A free festival, once again celebrating the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs, will be held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park this June with music, food and family-friendly activities.

The Sunday, June 7, event, co-hosted by Borough President Melinda Katz and Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, will also offer the chance to look back at the historic fairs.

There will be displays of World’s Fair memorabilia and vintage cars, including a classic car show courtesy of Broadway Stages and the Argento family, a guided World’s Fair history walking tour of the park to learn about the remaining structures and sculptures, and the Queens Museum’s World’s Fair exhibit, according to the Parks Department.

Kids can enjoy rides, including half off on the park’s historic carousel, craft projects, strolling magicians, a visit by Mr. Met and mini tennis clinics by the USTA. Puppets in the Park will also offer two performances of The Tales of Brier Rabbit.

Hungry fairgoers can try international foods at the LIC Flea Food Market, and musics lovers can listen to an eclectic mix of international music performed throughout the afternoon and a SummerStage concert featuring Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Hollis Brown and Damien Escobar.

The 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs, which each had two seasons, from April to October, ended 75 and 50 years ago this year.

In May 2014, a free World’s Fair Anniversary Festival was also held at Flushing Meadows Park. The event was part of a lineup of events to mark the anniversary of the start of the World’s Fairs, including the opening of the New York State Pavilion to the public for the first time in decades.

The World’s Fair Anniversary Festival will be held on Sunday, June 7, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. near the Unisphere. The SummerStage concert will start at 4 p.m.


Lauryn Hill to perform at Louis Armstrong festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Greg Chow/Flickr Creative Commons

Grammy-winning and top-charting singer Lauryn Hill is scheduled to headline the second annual Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturday, June 20.

The free event, which takes place from noon to 8 p.m., not far from the famed jazz legend’s former Corona home and now museum, will feature musical performances, family-friendly activities and food.

Joining the R&B artist, who now goes by “Ms. Lauryn Hill,” on the festival’s main stage will be Shannon Powell’s Traditional All-Star Band, Antibalas, Ozomatli and Rebirth Brass Band.

There will also be a Backyard Bash with family-friendly activities throughout the park and DJ sets in the Queens Museum that will “recreate the memorable garden parties” that Armstrong hosted at his home. The museum will also offer tours on its Panorama of the City of New York of notable jazz spots and feature audio and video of Armstrong.

Though the event is free, tickets are required for the main stage area and can be registered for here. For a price ranging from $25 to $250, attendees can experience the event “like a VIP,” which includes everything from a T-shirt to access to a premium viewing area and indoor VIP lounge.

In its second year, Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World celebrates the cultural legacy of the jazz musician. Armstrong, a New Orleans native, moved to Corona in 1943 and purchased the home at 34-56 107 St. shortly after marrying his wife Lucille. He lived there until his death in 1971. His wife continued to reside at the home until her passing in 1983. Twenty years later, the house, now a city and national historic landmark, opened to the public as the Louis Armstrong House Museum.


NYS Pavilion to get free paint job

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. 

The city Parks Department and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced Wednesday morning the latest efforts to spruce up the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Katz and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver will herald a new partnership with two local labor unions — the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the International Union of Painting and Allied Trades Local 806 District 9 — to repaint the upper portions of the Tent of Tomorrow, the elliptical steel building in the shadow of the pavilion’s space needles.

“Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Tent of Tomorrow is an iconic symbol of Queens, but we haven’t been able to give it the treatment it deserves until now,” Silver said. “Thanks to a partnership with the Structural Steel Painters Union, the building is being restored and beautified so that it may remain a source of pride for the entire borough, and a reminder of the World’s Fairs, for years to come.”

The new paint system of the pavilion, which is expected to be completed by this fall, will serve as a protective coating and extend the life of the structure by at least 15 years.

The $3 million effort will be undertaken free of charge through a painting apprenticeship program operated by the unions, allowing painters to gain work experience.

“Due to the tremendous generosity of Painters DC 9 and the Painting Contractors Association, the pavilion will be refreshed with a new coat of paint,” Katz said. “We’re working hard to save this architectural marvel, and the facelift is a great boon to our efforts. We will restore this national treasure into a visible icon befitting the ‘World’s Borough’ for generations of families and visitors to enjoy.”

In recent years, local volunteers and historians have advocated for refurbishing the pavilion, one of the last remaining fixtures of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The pavilion’s space needles served as observation decks, while the Tent of Tomorrow — once featuring a stained-glass roof and a terrazzo tile roadmap of New York State — was an entertainment venue.

The Tent of Tomorrow was used sporadically for years after the fair’s conclusion, but fell into disrepair along with the rest of the pavilion over the last few decades.

Full restoration of the pavilion is estimated to cost at least $43 million, according to a Parks Department announcement last November. Katz, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have already secured a combined $6 million in funds to repair the towers and its electrical infrastructure.

A group of volunteers also formed the New York State Pavilion Paint Project to provide short-term renovations while Katz and other city officials worked on a long-term plan for the pavilion’s rehabilitation.