1964-1965 New York World's Fair New York State Pavilion
|Location||Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Flushing, New York|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, structural engineer Lev Zetlin|
|NRHP reference No.||09000942|
|Added to NRHP||November 20, 2009|
The New York State Pavilion is a historic world's fair pavilion at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Flushing, Queens, New York. It was designed in 1962 for the 1964 New York World's Fair by architects Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, with structural engineer Lev Zetlin.
The Tent of Tomorrow is elliptical in plan, and its sixteen 100-foot reinforced concrete piers once supported the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The main floor of the Tent was a large scale design of a Texaco highway map of New York State, made of terrazzo. An idea floated after the fair to use the floor for the World Trade Center didn't materialize.
The Observation Towers are three concrete towers, with the tallest at 226 feet (69 metres) high. The towers have observation platforms which were once accessed by two (now-removed) "Sky Streak capsule" elevators attached to the tallest (western) tower. The southern tower has a platform height of 85 feet (26 metres) and the northern tower is at 160 feet (49 metres).
Theaterama was originally a single drum-shaped volume of reinforced concrete. Additions to the original structure were made from 1992 to 1993 and from 2008 to 2009. The Theaterama is home to the Queens Theatre, a performing arts center which produces and presents theatre and dance, as well as children's and cultural programming.
After the fair
The New York State Pavilion was one of two pavilions retained for future use; the other one was the United States Pavilion building. No reuse was ever found for the U.S. Pavilion however, and it became severely deteriorated and vandalized; it was ultimately demolished in 1977.
The New York State Pavilion was used for TV and movie sets, such as an episode of McCloud; for The Wiz; part of the setting (and the plot) for Men in Black; and the centerpiece for the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2. It was also the venue for rock concerts, as part of the Singer Bowl Festival in 1969, which included Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Santana and other headline groups of the era (see  for poster ads). It was also the filming location in 1987 for the video clip for the debut single by They Might Be Giants, Don't Let's Start.
In the decades after the fair closed, it was an abandoned and badly neglected relic, with its roof gone and the once bright floors and walls almost faded away. Once the red ceiling tiles were removed from the pavilion in the late 1970s, for safety reasons, the terrazzo floor was subject to the elements and was ruined. In 1994, the Queens Theatre took over the Circarama adjacent to the towers, and continues to operate there, using the ruined state pavilion as a storage depot.
For the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair, on the morning of April 22, 2014, the long-shuttered New York State Pavilion was opened to the public for three hours. Because of the pavilion's state of decay, visitors were required to wear hardhats. The event was hosted by the New York State Pavilion Paint Project and NYC Parks. A larger than expected crowd turned out, upwards of five thousand people, to get the rare glimpse inside the Tent of Tomorrow. That same day, the National Trust for Historic Preservation also named the Pavilion as one of its National Treasures.
Some conservation and restoration efforts were demonstrated in 2008 by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, and a handful of local groups are advocating to raise funds to complete the restoration of the terrazzo floor. The pavilion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
In late 2013, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced plans to restore the pavilion with new landscaped paths and event spaces at an estimated cost of $73 million, as opposed to the $14 million cost to demolish the structure. Renewed interest was shown in the pavilion's restoration in early 2014, the 50th anniversary of its opening. In July 2014, the pavilion received about $5.8 million for restoration. The New York Mets also donated some money for the preservation effort. However, the pavilion was damaged the same month by arsonists.
In May 2015, the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association, in conjunction with the New York City Parks Department and members of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (District Council 9, Local 806), announced a project to repaint the rusty steel framework of the Tent of Tomorrow. After testing paint chips, the color "American Cheese Yellow" was selected as the best match for the original color. The majority of the labor was done by union trainees, and materials were supplied by the contractors, constituting a $3 million donation. All work was completed by August 2015.
Two proposed designs for the New York State Pavilion's restoration won New York City's 2018 Annual Awards for Excellence in Design. As of June 2018[update], the New York City government planned to award contracts for the pavilion's restoration, set to be worth $14.25 million, in May 2019. The restoration was planned to take up to one and a half years. Work on the project started in November 2019, and the restoration is expected to be completed in early 2021.
The 1997 film Men In Black presents the circular observation decks as being disguised flying saucers. In the film, the 1964 World's Fair is said to have been a cover to allow extraterrestrials to land on Earth. The exterior of Men in Black: Alien Attack, a ride at Universal Studios Florida, features a replica of the two tallest observation decks.
The Pavilion is the subject of a documentary film titled Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion produced by filmmaker and teacher Matthew Silva. The documentary premiered on May 22, 2015, in the Queens Theatre which was formerly the theaterama, the third component of the New York State Pavilion.
In March 2016, People For the Pavilion and the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched an international ideas competition to allow the public to reimagine possibilities for what the pavilion could become.
The site was featured in the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV and its episodes. It also appears in Skate 3 as part of the Maloof Money Cup 2010 NYC DLC pack, with a concrete skatepark inside the structure.
- "National Register of Historic Places". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. June 25, 2010.
- "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original (Searchable database) on July 1, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2016. Note: This includes Emily T. Cooperman (July 2009). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: 1964-1965 New York World's Fair New York State Pavilion" (PDF). Retrieved February 1, 2016. and Accompanying 23 photographs
- Hirshon, Nicholas. "City begins stripping Sky Streak's two rotting '64 World's Fair elevators". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Long-Shuttered N.Y. State Pavilion In Queens To Reopen For 3 Hours Next Month". March 25, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Foderaro, Lisa W. (April 22, 2014). "World's Fair Relic Deemed a 'Treasure'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- "In Queens, the Fate of a Towering Relic From the 1964 World's Fair Is Debated". The New York Times. February 17, 2014. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
- "New York State Pavilion Receives $5.8 Million for Restoration". New York Times. July 8, 2014. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- Jeremiah Budin (July 29, 2014). "Mets Will Donate Money to Help Save New York State Pavilion". Curbed. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- "Vandals break into the historic New York State Pavilion and set fire to a stolen van, damaging the 50-year-old terrazzo map". New York Daily News. July 23, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Colangelo, Lisa L. (May 5, 2015). "Iconic New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park getting $3 million facelift - FOR FREE". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- Haynes, Daniel C. (June 2, 2018). "FMCP projects win design awards". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
- "New York State Pavilion Observation Towers Reconstruction : NYC Parks". www.nycgovparks.org. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
- Parry, Bill (November 8, 2019). "NYC Parks breaks ground on $24 million project to preserve the World's Fair Pavilion towers". QNS.com. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Silva, Matthew. "[Homepage]". Aquarela Pictures. Aquarela Pictures. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- "Modern Ruin: Filmmaker Matthew Silva on the New York State Pavilion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- "New York State Pavilion might get radically re-imagined with this open call for ideas - QNS.com". QNS.com. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
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