Tag Archives: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Serena Williams to host tennis clinic with Queens youngsters

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino

Defending US Open champion Serena Williams is set to serve up a fun clinic for some lucky local kids.

The 17-time Grand Slam singles champion is hosting a youth tennis clinic on Thursday just days before the 2014 US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

About 25 children ages 7 to 12 from the Corona-based Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities Community Center are set to meet and play with Williams.

The clinic is part of the “Returning the Love” initiative, where players reach out to surrounding community organizations both on and off the court.



First phase of National Tennis Center expansion complete

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy United States Tennis Association

The United States Tennis Association announced Monday the completion of the first phase of a five-year, $500 million transformation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, just weeks ahead of the 2014 US Open.

The renovations include new elevated seating around Courts 4, 5 and 6 that create a three-court stadium viewing experience for fans.

The elevated seating area will hold more than 1,300 fans, and Court 5 will be the US Open’s seventh television court. It will also feature two video screens and electronic line calling.

The changes to the courts will be followed by other expansions of the National Tennis Center, which include two new stadiums to replace the Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand stadiums, a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the expansion of the south section of the tennis center campus to accommodate an additional 10,000 fans daily during the Grand Slam.

The entire project is projected to be completed by 2018.

The 2014 US Open begins on Monday, Aug. 25, and concludes on Sept. 8.



Former 1964 World’s Fair office building set for upgrade

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Recent talks of upgrading World’s Fair relics seem to focus on the New York State Pavilion.

But the Olmsted Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which was constructed in 1964 and used as temporary offices for Robert Moses and the World’s Fair Corporation staff during the colossal event, is also getting a makeover.

The Parks Department announced Aug. 4 that it is collecting bids for a contractor to renovate the center, which is named in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of Central, Prospect and Riverside parks. Today, the building houses the bulk of the agency’s capital project staff.

The renovation project, which is designed by BKSK Architects, is split in two phases.

The first is the expansion of the center with a new 10,000-square-foot annex building, which is nearing completion.

The second phase, which will commence in early 2015, will technologically enhance the building and resolve flooding problems. It will include a new water channel system to lead water into bioswales that will contain and absorb it.

The renovated building will include Kebony wood for the walkways, complimented by steel railings and stainless steel cabling.

The construction will also include new siding to improve the center’s resistance to weather, and reconfiguration of the interior to accommodate employees and people with disabilities.

The bids are due Sept. 8.



Vandals damage NYS Pavilion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of John Piro


Vandals caused mischief at the storied New York State Pavilion last weekend, setting a stolen van ablaze and damaging its terrazzo map, according to a member of an advocacy group for the structure.

John Piro, co-founder of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a local group dedicated to restoring the 1964-1965 World’s Fair figure in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, said the delinquents were causing havoc.

“They came in with a stolen van, broke the lock [of the park] and set the van on fire,” said Piro, who saw the aftermath on Monday morning after the Parks Department saw it on Sunday.

He said they also burned the tarp on the gravel, knocked down steel beams and even damaged what’s left of the Pavilion’s terrazzo map on its ground by using a cinder block to smash the map’s corner panel.

“It’s heartbreaking, after all the work we’ve done,” Piro said. “Hopefully it will never happen again.

THE COURIER/File photo

The incident, first reported by the New York Daily News, comes at the heels of the World’s Fair 50th anniversary celebration just two months ago. The Pavilion opened to the public for the first time in decades this April to also commemorate the historic event.

Last November, the Parks Department released plans to fix the relic, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. Borough President Melinda Katz created a task force of local officials, and civic and community leaders to construct a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

For now, Piro said he is just grateful nothing worse happened.

“They could have caused a lot more damage,” he said. “Now we have to try to do something preventative.” He said they’re looking into something along the lines of an alarm.

The Parks Department said it inspected the site and only found minimal damage.

“This will not have any effect on our efforts to stabilize and preserve the New York State Pavilion,” parks officials said.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



Annual Tour de Queens draws more than 1,200 riders

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Transportation Alternatives

More than 1,200 bicyclists from around the city participated in the 7th Annual Tour de Queens, a 20-mile ride that travels through several neighborhoods in the borough.

The annual ride on Sunday by Transportation Alternatives began in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the plaza between the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, and took cyclists of all ages through East Flushing, Murrary Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst and Whitestone.

While the event bears a resemblance in name to the rigid Tour de France biking competition, the Tour de Queens is not a race. Participants rode through streets at a leisurely pace with the NYPD and volunteers from Transportation Alternatives acting as safety marshals.

Proceeds from the event will go toward advocacy efforts to enhance public transportation and make the streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.




Students to analyze Queens waters in summer CUNY program

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

More than 30 high school students will test the waters of Queens as part of a special City University of New York (CUNY) summer program.

Macaulay Honors College of CUNY is hosting the course to sample and analyze water at the Queens base of the Throgs Neck Bridge, Flushing Bay and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, so students can learn about threats to the ecosystem.

Led by Queens College professor and oceanographer Gillian Stewart, students from Brooklyn Tech H.S. will identify issues facing each body of water and think of possible solutions.

The site sampling is intended to foster students’ interest in science and the environment and the program will begin on June 30. On July 3 students will take a full-day field trip to the sites to sample the bodies of water.

“We really just want to take the students out there to show them New York is surrounded by water,” Stewart said. “But New York has one of the most contaminated waterways in the country.”

Students will analyze water samples from the three sites and use tools to identify the pH and oxygen levels, the amount of metal in the water, plankton and the diversity of sea life. They will also identify threats such as the raw sewage that leaks into Flushing Bay and the pollution from car traffic into Meadow Lake, Stewart said.

Although the program will show students issues facing the waterways, Stewart hopes the students stay positive.

“Most New Yorkers don’t realize how threatened those waters are,” Stewart said. “I hope these students walk away with an interest in science and environment…but also the optimism that they could make a difference.”



Attend a Mets game to support the NYS Pavilion

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New York Mets

The Mets are stepping up to the plate to help out one of their iconic neighbors.

In cooperation with People for the Pavilion (PFP) and to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs, a portion of each ticket purchased through a special online offer for the team’s Friday, August 1 game at Citi Field will help support the PFP’s initiative of preserving the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Purchasers will receive a Limited Edition Mets Pavilion t-shirt. Additionally, groups of 25 or more get welcomed on the Right Field Scoreboard and the group leader receives four tickets to the game of their choice (tickets subject to availability).

To buy tickets for the 7:10 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants, click here.



Thousands relive past World’s Fairs at anniversary festival, call for third Fair

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It wasn’t quite a third New York World’s Fair, but Sunday’s anniversary festival left that impression.

Thousands flocked to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, to honor the 75th and 50th anniversaries through a myriad of free activities, exhibitions and various food, sponsored by the Queens borough president’s office and the Parks Department.

People mostly from around the city, Tri-State area and Long Island came to relive the memory of the World’s Fair and pass along that feeling to the next generation.

“For me, just to come back and pay respects 50 years later is [great],” said Carlos Rios, a Harlem native who attended the 1964-65 World’s Fair. “It’s deja-vu.”

Surrounding the iconic Unisphere, there were inflatable rides for children, international food courtesy of LIC Flea & Food, free tours, exhibitions from Queens educational institutions, memorabilia from past Fairs, and music from various bands— including Beatles tribute band, the Liverpool Shuffle.

Despite the festivities, the celebration just didn’t compare to an actual World’s Fair, some said.

“This is not a World’s Fair, this is just a reunion-type thing,” Marc Cutler, a Brooklyn resident who collects World’s Fair memorabilia said. “There’s no comparison.”

But the festival triggered so many memories of the Fair, some people are now calling for a third fair, and politicians are already on board.

“We need conservation, preservation, and more economic development [in Queens], and I think a World’s Fair would do all of that wrapped up in one,” Public Advocate Letitia James said.

Many watched and listened as the band Raices and others performed in front of the Unisphere. 

Learning the history of the World’s Fair is great, but for kids, bouncy houses are also fun.  

International food vendors, such as Koso’s Korean cuisine, were available at the festival courtesy of LIC Flea & Food. 

AT&T unveiled charging stations— a must-have in modern times. 

A festival isn’t a festival without classic cars. 

An original Batmobile from the Batman TV series in the mid-1960s. It was not part of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, but Autoseum added it to the classic cars selection because it is a fan favorite. 

New York State Pavilion advocates were around to give tours and information on the structure as well as ask people to sign petitions to save it. 



Festival to celebrate World’s Fair anniversaries this Sunday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



On Sunday, May 18, from 1 to 5:30 p.m., NYC Parks is celebrating two World’s Fair anniversaries — the 75th anniversary of the 1939 and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 — in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The giant one-day festival will offer inflatable rides, puppet shows, strolling magicians, tents filled with World’s Fair memorabilia, live cultural dance and music, history tours of World’s Fair icons in the park, great food and a place to record your own World’s Fair memories and photos.

From 5:30 to 9 p.m., stay for a free concert by the Liverpool Shuffle, a Beatles tribute band, followed by the Queens Symphony Orchestra and a skyful of fireworks. If you plan to ride the 7 subway, you might find yourself on one of the actual World’s Fair cars from the 1964 Fair — the MTA is returning it to service May 18 only to celebrate the day.

The Fairs are gone, but Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the World’s Park, remains.

Since 2002, NYC Parks has spent nearly $89 million on dozens of capital improvements to the park, and this important work continues. Some are renovations or new uses for World’s Fair legacy structures.

Originally built for the 1939 Fair, the Boathouse on Meadow Lake is now home to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which holds its annual race in August; the American Small Craft Association, offering sailing; and Row New York. From the 1964 World’s Fair, the Unisphere remains, its three rings circling the globe to represent the first three satellites to orbit the earth. Terrace on the Park, once Port Authority’s T-shaped heliport, now serves as a catering hall with remarkable views. Information about many more structures and works of art in the park can be found on a visit or by going to www.nyc.gov/parks and searching World’s Fair.

How much does New York love Flushing Meadows Corona Park and its treasures? On April 22, 2014, as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, local elected officials and community leaders cut the ribbon on the anniversary season, 2,500 people lined up to step inside the New York State Pavilion’s “Tent of Tomorrow,” where they could re-imagine the happiness, hope and promise of that beautiful spring when the 1964 Fair first opened.

Join us to celebrate it all at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival Sunday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

See you in the park!

Dorothy Lewandowski is Queens Parks Commissioner for NYC Parks.



LIC and Astoria Flea & Food vendors to be at World’s Fair Anniversary Festival

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Several food vendors from the LIC Flea & Food and Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios are making their way to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park this Sunday to add their flavor to the World’s Fair festivities.

Visitors to the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival will be able to taste empanadas from Jessy’s Pastries, Old Fashioned Donuts, brisket from Butcher Bar, Finga Lickin Jamaican Jerk Spot’s jerk chicken, Kosofresh’s rice bowls, Fav’s Treatery’s muffins stuffed with cheeses and meats, ZhaPanAsian riceballs, kosher cheeses from The Cheese Guy, Drink More Good syrups and drinks, and cool down with lemonade from Frittering Away.

The vendors will be located by the rides and just steps away from the New York State Pavilion.

The World’s Fair Anniversary Festival begins at 1 p.m. and a variety of music, including tunes from a Beatles Tribute band, book readings, puppet shows and food from around the world. The festival will then end with a sky-filled with fireworks.



Video captures Queens family’s memories from 1964-1965 World’s Fair

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of Psomiades family

A local family shared some its memories of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair with The Queens Courier through film.

The Psomiades handed over footage of the family, which included parents Bill and Tessie, and their sons Bill, John and George, attending the event at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

To mark the event’s 50th anniversary, The Courier had the 18-minute film digitized.




Former Parkway Hospital will be converted to condos

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jasper Venture Group

Follow me @liamlaguerre


After being shuttered for six years, the site of the former Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills will be converted to a residential building.

Jasper Venture Group, a real estate investment firm, announced on May 7 that it plans to demolish the former hospital at 70-35 113th St. and construct a bigger building than the 70,000-square-feet property.

Including a parking lot, the site is more than 107,000 square feet.

The company did not release how many units the new building will have or when it is set to be complete, but said the new residential space will “breathe new life into the idle site.”

“The additional housing this project will provide when complete will be a relief to those seeking a more spacious option to the compact living New York City provides,” the company said in a release. “[T]he former Parkway Hospital will be luxurious, offering its residents a view of the lakes and their own slice of serenity.”

Parkway Hospital overlooks Grand Central Parkway and rests just outside of both Willow Lake and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The state closed the hospital in 2008 and it has been vacant since. The hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

Former Parkway CEO Robert Aquino was sentenced to four months in jail in May of 2012 after he pleaded guilty to bribing former State Senator Carl Kruger to try to keep the medical facility open.



Readers continue to share their World’s Fair memories

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



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!

“Dotty Sodano”

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



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.



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.”




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

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


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.