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This week we got some bad news regarding the New York State Pavilion, but today better news emerged. Governor Cuomo recently announced he is allocating a total of $5,000,000 to help repair 14 historically significant properties damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Cuomo awarded $127,000 for repairs to the New York State Pavilion, the single property selected in Queens. Here are details on the repairs to come:

$127,000 to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for a conditions assessment of damage to the NYS Pavilion cable roof structure to determine the impact of Sandy and develop cost estimates for stabilization; basic repairs may also be undertaken. The NYS Pavilion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with national significance as a landmark of American engineering and was one of most highly acclaimed structures at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.

These funds are in addition to the $5,806,000 allocated to upgrade the structure’s electrical system, rebuild the staircases inside the Pavilion’s three towers, and repair the concrete platforms supporting the observation decks at the top of each of the towers. As People for the Pavilion said of the recent news, “The continued support from elected officials for the preservation of the Pavilion is extremely encouraging. PFP will continue to work with our partners at the local, city, state, and national levels to develop a sustainable reuse plan for the Pavilion, and to encourage further support for the structure.”

All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

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Last weekend, vandals broke into the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. The Daily News reports that they set fire to a stolen van. They also set fire to the tarp that covers the terrazzo map of New York State, embedded into the floor of the Tent of Tomorrow. Finally, they took a cinderblock to smash one side of the map, which is already worse for wear.

Preservationists fighting for the reuse of the iconic World’s Fair structure were devastated, especially considering that the movement for preservation is at an all-time high. (This bad news comes right after Borough President Katz allocated $5,806,000 for improvements for the structure.) Volunteers are considering ways to increase safety at the site and will possibly install an alarm. Pictured above, that’s John Piro of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project and Park Supervisor Vincent Musillo considering the damage to one of the map panels.

Vandals Break Into the Historic New York State Pavilion [NY Daily News]
All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo via the NY Daily News

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There are improvements in the works for the long-abandoned New York State Pavilion, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Yesterday Borough President Melinda Katz sent out a press release announcing that the city allocated a total of $5,806,000 to help restore the Space-Age, Phillip Johnson-designed structure. They money will go toward upgrading the structure’s electrical system (a previous report stated that Katz designated funds to light up the towers), rebuild the staircases inside the Pavilion’s three towers, and repair the concrete platforms supporting the observation decks at the top of each of the towers.

The movement to restore the Pavilion is really gaining traction. Yesterday, the grassroots organization People for the Pavilion announced that it teamed up with the New York Landmarks Conservancy and planned to establish itself as a registered non-profit. Here’s their statement on the news of the restoration: “We urge you to join us in thanking Mayor de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and City Council Speaker and Members for taking the first bold step in breathing new life in to the Pavilion – the iconic symbol of Queens for all New Yorkers and the world. We look forward to working closely with our government officials, local business organizations and community groups, to develop a vibrant community space for the Pavilion. We are especially grateful to Queens Borough President Katz whose leadership on saving the Pavilion has been catalytic.”

All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

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People for the Pavilion, a grassroots organization aiming to bring the crumbling New York State Pavilion back to life, is going legit. The organization just announced this yesterday:

We’re excited to announce an official partnership with the New York Landmarks Conservancy, who have agreed to serve as our fiscal sponsors while we establish ourselves as a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

The fiscal sponsorship with the Landmarks Conservancy and our eventual establishment as a 501(c)3 will allow us to raise funds to run public programs, and to cover the costs of running an organization working full-time to preserve and reuse the structure.

We have a number of public programs in the works, so stay tuned over the coming weeks for information! You can learn more about the great work of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, at their website here.

Great news! Since the group established early this year, People for the Pavilion helped promote the opening of the iconic structure to the public for a day, and pushed the Parks Department to consider investing in the Pavilion’s future. We can’t wait to see what’s next — lights, perhaps?

All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

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It looks like the New York State Pavilion, the 1964 World’s Fair landmark that’s decaying away, is in for a brighter future. A Crain’s reporter chatted with Borough President Melinda Katz, who has spoken against demolishing the structures. And according to Crain’s, Katz “found about $1 million in her borough budget to upgrade the electrical systems in the pavilion so it can light up the night’s skyline from Flushing Meadows Corona Park as brightly as the steel Unisphere globe now does.” She believes that once the towers are lit up, there will be more momentum to restore the pavilion. (A restoration, with no public access, is estimated to cost around $40,000,000.) There are no details on when this would actually happen, but we’d sure like to see the plan become a reality.

Light Fantastic [Crain's]
All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo via People for the Pavilion

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It looks like the research team from the University of Central Florida and the company CyArk began their 3D scan of the New York State Pavilion. After the scan, researchers plan to stitch together 50 to 60 images of the pavilion to capture details and make them available online. The team will work from ground level, while the 3-D scanners are located on tripods around the structure. CyArk — a nonprofit that specializes in digital preservation — tagged along with University of Central Florida because they recently raised $15,000 on KickStarter to take on the project.

All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo via Twitter

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From June 2nd to June 6th, Lori Walters, a researcher from the University of Central Florida, will visit Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to create a three-dimensional scan of the New York State Pavilion. The Wall Street Journal shares details: “The researchers will place high-speed 3-D laser scanners, each about the size of a football, atop tripods around the structure. Dr. Walters plans to stitch together about 50 to 60 images, with scanning lasting as long as half an hour in some parts, to capture the detail of the pavilion.” The pavilion will be scanned from the ground; researchers will not be allowed to scale the three towers, which rise 60, 150 and 226 feet. In the end, the goal is to preserve the image of the deteriorating icon and ultimately create a virtual tour to post online.

Dr. Walters plans to scan the pavilion no matter what, but there’s also a KickStarter campaign underway for the non-profit CyArk to join her and her team. CyArk digitally scanned more than 130 historic sites around the world since its inception in 2003. So far they raised a little more than $8,000 of their $15,000 goal, with three days to go.

Scanning a Slice of Queens [WSJ]
Closing Bell: A Fundraiser to Digitally Preserve the New York State Pavilion [Q'Stoner]

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The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, alongside the non profit company CyArk, launched a Kickstarter to operate a 3D laser scan of the New York State Pavilion and create a digital record to aid preservation. Here are a few details on the unique project…

Digitally preserving the New York State Pavilion with 3D laser scanning can create an accurate record to serve as a base data set to aid conservation and future restoration. It will take our joint UCF and CyArk team five (5) days to 3D map the steel and concrete ruins of the Pavilion’s Observation Towers and Tent of Tomorrow.

The field work to record the Pavilion in 3D is scheduled for early June. The team will record the remains of the New York State Pavilion’s Observation Towers and Tent of Tomorrow. If time allows, the team will also capture the Pavilion’s Theaterama to complete the context of the 3D data set (the Theaterama remains in use as the Queens Theater and has thus been maintained).

The meticulously detailed, and millimetrically accurate 3D data can be translated into three-dimensional architectural drawings and models for conservators to plan restoration efforts.

Additionally, the processed 3D data will be made freely available to the public for personal, educational, and scientific research uses.

The team hopes to raise at least $15,000 for the project, and they have already secured permission from the Parks Department to take it on. Given the recent enthusiasm behind preservation of the New York State Pavilion, they may just pull it off.

3D Preservation of a National Treasure [Kickstarter]
All New York State Pavilion coverage [Q'Stoner]

Designed by Philip Johnson, the NY State Pavilion was among the most striking buildings in a Fair full of them. It consists of the “Tent of Tomorrow” consisting of sixteen 100-foot columns that supported a 50,000-square-foot roof of multicolored panels (which was removed in the 1970s) as well as three towers, measuring 60, 150 and 226 feet tall. Fairgoers could ascend top the top of the towers via “Sky Streak” capsule elevators, and dine at a restaurant on the shortest. Inside the pavilion, there was a scale model of the new St. Lawrence River hydroelectric plant, NY State industry information, artwork from the 19th-century Hudson River School, and portraits of NY State colonists. There were reproductions of historic steam trains and vintage automobiles, as well as rides for the kiddies.

Tuesday, April 22nd, was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and other dignitaries cut the ribbon on what had been a dark, rainy day, amid fears of protests by civil rights groups. The crowds were underwhelming on Opening Day, but the Fair ultimately proved a hit. Relatively few countries participated, however, not because of ideological problems with the USA, but because Seattle had hosted a recent Fair in 1962 and most countries had concentrated their resources there.

To celebrate the anniversary, NYC Parks opened the New York State Pavilion to the public for the first time in many years. Since the Fair closed the Pavilion had been put to a number of uses. In the late 1960s and early 1970s it served as a concert space, with the likes of the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin performing on the pavilion’s stage. In the 1980s, the pavilion was converted to a roller skating rink, a decision that ultimately did no favors to one of the pavilion’s chief attractions, a giant road map of New York State.

However, after that time the pavilion was simply allowed to stand and crumble. The colored panels of the Tent of Tomorrow long ago became unstable and were removed in the 1970s. The road map crumbled and moss grew between the cracks. The Sky Streak elevator cars that had been “frozen” in place on the towers also became destabilized and were in danger of falling off, so they were removed. The rusting, crumbling elevator cars sit in a roped-off area near the adjoining Queens Theater in the Park. Estimates hold that it will take $14 million to tear down the old pavilion, but between $50 and $100 million to restore it. Nevertheless, there is a groundswell of activity toward restoration. Borough President Melinda Katz is on record as favoring such a revival. Nonprofit People for the Pavilion urges the preservation and restoration of the structure, and co-founder Mathew Silva is presently working on a film documentary entitled Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion. 

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Pleasant, mild weather combined with plenty of publicity to push the expected crowd total to between five and ten thousand visitors! Crowds snaked through long stretches of park paths, even crossing the bridges over Grand Central Parkway. The wait time was about three hours, as only small crowds were allowed under the Tent of Tomorrow at any given time. Hard hats were given out as a precaution against any falling debris. Nevertheless, the mood was pleasant and relaxed. A food truck serving the original Belgian waffle recipe that was sold at the 1964-1965 Fair was on hand, and lines were considerably longer than the Mister Softee ice cream truck that set up next to it.

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Crowds milled around the entrance, waiting to get in when their numbers (distributed on line) were called out. There was some detailing from the old pavilion put in place for this one event — note the set of blue glass globes over the entrance, that matched the original ones set up in 1964.

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Photographs taken during the Fair’s original run showed the pavilion’s hive of activities as well as the original color-paneled Tent of Tomorrow.

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The NY State Pavilion contained striking visuals both above and below. Texaco funded a giant map of New York State on the pavilion floor with 567 mosaic terrazo panels weighing about 400 lbs. each. Rand McNally supplied the topographic information, and Texaco furnished the location of each of its gas stations in the state. When the pavilion’s “roof ” was removed due to its deterioration borne of general negligence, the Texaco map was open to the elements. A few years ago, selected panels were removed and partially restored for an exhibit for the Queens Museum (which is also located in Flushing Meadows). Selected panels depicting parts of the Texaco map’s Long Island section were set up inside the pavilion.

Hopefully, the publicity bestowed on the NY State Pavilion for its 50th Anniversary will provide the momentum, and more importantly, the funding, that will restore it as a prime exhibit space, as well as restore the towers, the Sky Streak elevator, the restaurant and the multicolored Tent of Tomorrow. Can a new floor map be produced? We can dream.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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