Saturday, July 19, 2008

De-Mapping New York

January, 2000

Above is part of the rotunda of the New York State Pavilion at the 1964-65 World's Fair at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York. Originally there was a marvelous stained glass canopy suspended in the cables overhead, but for fear that it would eventually fall on people, it was torn out not long after the fair closed. Apparently destruction was considered a form of preventive maintenance in the mid-1960's.

Worse destruction was done, however, to what lay beneath the canopy. For, as the New York State pavilion was underwritten by the Texaco Oil Company (creeping corporate commercialism even in the innocent early '60's; everything at the fair had corporate sponsorship) the main feature was a huge road map of the state, a parquet mosaic featuring larger cities and towns, major connecting roadways, interstates and county roads, and the approximate location of every Texaco gas station in the state.

March, 1990

But after the fair closed, and the roof was removed, and the maintenance ended, the elements took over. Using the place as a roller skating rink for a few years didn't do much good, either, but they at least had the good sense to build a plywood floor for that ill-advised venture. By the time I slipped through the gates (actually, I think the fence was wide open) in March of 1990, the place was a wreck. The Parks Department had been using it to store heavy equipment, sand, and other crap for decades. Water was pooling across the Adirondacks and piles of dead leaves were flotsam off Montauk. Upstate suburbs were lost to giant craters and concrete patchwork.

March, 1990

Today the gates are locked tight, and and a new chain-link fence encircles the perimeter, making it impossible to even peek into the rotunda, but what little is discernible is far from encouraging. While some renovation is being done to the theaters in the pavilion, the three towers, the rotunda, and whatever remains of the mosaic on the floor are left to rot. Just another one of 'man's achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe.'

1 comment:

Bill Cotter said...

The current state of the New York State Pavilion is a sad thing indeed. You can find a lot more information on the pavilion and fair at, and

Nice pictures of a sad subject.