It was so nice they did it twice. Flushing Meadows Corona Park hosted the 1939-1940 World’s Fair and the one that ran in 1964 and 1965. Both events — which took place over two, consecutive, six-month periods — had major impact on Queens and the rest of the world. Plus, both are currently celebrating major anniversaries (50th and 75th). This Sunday, a group of Urban Park Rangers will lead a tour through the park that will highlight the remnants and their roles in these historic fairs. More details after jump.


Next week, people in a large, public lawn in Queens will follow the yellow brick road as Dorothy Gale searches for a wizard who can allegedly return her to Kansas. Then, in late August, the same public green space will become supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as per a nanny with an umbrella and magical powers.

It’s the 75th and 50th anniversaries of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, which took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and it’s the 75th jubilee of The Wizard of Oz’s debut as well as the 50th anniversary of the Mary Poppins launch. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is celebrating these many milestones by hosting an outdoor screening of The Wizard of Oz (above) on July 9th and a showing of Mary Poppins (below) on August 20th in what Borough President Melinda Katz likes to call “The World’s Park.”

Details after the jump.


Queens Brownstoner readers have recently seen a lot of propaganda about commemorative events related to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Well, here comes the granddaddy of them all. On May 18th, the borough’s largest green space hosts an eight-hour extravaganza featuring everything from carousel rides to kiddie crafts to dance performances. The festival phase (1 pm to 5 pm) includes guided tours of the World’s Fair sites, exhibits by local cultural venues, puppet shows, bouncy castles, classic cars, international food trucks and even a visit from Mr. Met. The Queens Symphony Orchestra (below) highlights the entertainment phase (5 pm to 9 pm), which features a concert by the Liverpool Shuffle, a well-respected Beatles tribute band, and a huge fireworks show. Expect some pleasant surprises too, such as Flor de Toloache, the city’s only all-female Mariachi band, and prominent 1964 figures.

Details: World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, May 18th, 1 pm to 9 pm, free. Because parking is limited, the event organizers suggest taking public transportation.

Top photo: NYC Parks Photo Archive; bottom photo: Queens Symphony Orchestra


World’s Fair. World’s Fair. World’s Fair. World’s Fair. World’s Fair. World’s Fair. Repeat until August 31st. The Museum of the Moving Image is currently — and continuously — screening excerpts from six movies about the two World’s Fairs that took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (1939 and 1964). Among the highlights are scenes about a plastic green brontosaurus (above) based on Sinclair’s logo and Electro (below), a voice-controlled robot whose vocabulary had more than 700 words stored on a 78 RPM record. Here’s the rundown.

  • The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair. This film depicts the complications of a love triangle with a young woman who breaks her engagement with a Westinghouse engineer to be with her anti-capitalist art teacher. The movie features discussions about the importance of machines, especially Electro.
  • To New Horizons. This documentary tells the story of the the 1964 General Motors Highways and Horizons Pavilion, which contained the popular Futurama exhibit. Individual car ownership and the highway system are the main themes.
  • World’s Fair Report with Lowell Thomas. Legendary broadcaster Lowell Thomas, who traveled to the Middle East in 1918 and discovered T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), hosts this promotional video, which was made about three years before the 1964 World’s Fair opened. The original version included footage of President John F. Kennedy speaking at a promotional press event, but it was revised shortly after his assassination.
  • Sinclair at the World’s Fair. Corporate sponsors, including car manufacturers, oil companies and airlines, built many of the 1964 pavilions. Arguably, the most popular one was Sinclair Oil’s Dinoland, which featured nine life-sized fiberglass dinosaurs.
  • Unisphere: The Biggest World on Earth. The Unisphere was built in 1964 to represent the theme “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” To this day, it’s the world’s largest globe-shaped structure.
  • To the Fair. This humorous film, commissioned to promote the 1964 fair, shows visitors coming to NYC by any means possible, including helicopter, hydrofoil, 10-seat bike, and amphibious car.

Details: The World Comes to Queens: Films from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, continuous screenings through August 31st, free with admission, $12/$9 senior citizens (65+) and students with valid ID/$6 children (3-12)/free for children under three.


The anticipation was tremendous. Exactly 50 years ago today, the 1964 World’s Fair kicked off with an inauguration featuring a speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson. To commemorate this historic event today, NYC Parks opened the New York State Pavilion for three hours this afternoon. More than 5,000 spectators waited in line to see this remnant and take photos of the interior portion, where the Tent of Tomorrow once stood.

People started gathering around the NYS Pavilion as soon as the sun came up. The line stretched around the beloved structure.

By 11 am, patient and excited people were standing on the Grand Central Parkway’s overpass.

By 11:30 am, the queue went past the Queens Zoo and into its parking lot.

Those who waited got to see the inside of a structure once hosted Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones concerts.

Diana Ross and Michael Jackson danced around this mezzanine while filming The Wiz.

Borough President Melinda Katz wants to restore the NYS Pavilion, even though it would cost an estimated $75 million. What’s your opinion?


Given that it’s the 50th and 75th anniversaries of both World’s Fair events in Queens, we’ve been celebrating the World’s Fair quite a bit these days. Let’s continue! An Imgur user posted old slides, taken by their grandparents, from the 1964 World’s Fair. The photographs really are fantastic and you can see all 36 over here. After the jump, we posted a few of our favorites.


“From the World’s Fair to the World’s Park.” Expect to hear this new slogan a lot over the next six months as part of a dual effort to rebrand Flushing Meadows Corona Park and celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs that took place there. Yesterday, Maspeth-based Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, who chairs the NY State Assembly’s Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports Committee, announced a $100,000 grant to the Queens Tourism Council to help it promote local World’s Fair commemorative events over the next six months. Cultural institutions such as the Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and New York Hall of Science are planning special activities related to these anniversaries, and NYC Parks is ready to host a World’s Fair Festival on May 18.  (Click here to see all the events.) Borough President Melinda Katz is also involved, co-chairing the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee with Assemblymember Markey and spearheading an effort to promote the Flushing green space as the “World’s Park.” These two elected officials will join other Queens leaders near the NY State Pavilion on April 22 to mark the exact 50th anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 1964 World’s Fair. The rumor is that they will sing the National Anthem.

Editor’s Note: There was a pleasant surprise at yesterday’s Queens Tourism Council meeting at Queens Theatre. Mookie Wilson, a former Mets centerfielder who starred in the 1986 Worlds Series, passed by while taking a walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He joined the photo and is seen standing, second from extreme left. Assemblywoman Markey is standing in the exact middle.


It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.


Over the weekend we were perusing old NY World’s Fair photos and we got to wondering… would you like to see another World’s Fair in NYC? And if so, where? Flushing Meadows Park again? Somewhere else? It’s a fun thing to think about. The next one will be Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy. Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments or via twitter at @queensnycity!


We stumbled across this film footage taken during the 1964-65 NY World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park. The kids, Danny and Bobby, are adorable, and make an appearance throughout the film, waving at the camera or petting what looks like a big hairy bison. Their grandfather, Gus Martens, was behind the 8mm camera for the daytime shots, and spliced in the night footage at the end from a souvenir newsreel.