New York State Pavilion

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New York State Pavilion
NY State Pavilion 2015.jpg
New York State Pavilion August 2015
New York State Pavilion is located in New York City
New York State Pavilion
Location Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Flushing, New York 11368
Coordinates 40°44′38.5″N 73°50′39.9″W / 40.744028°N 73.844417°W / 40.744028; -73.844417Coordinates: 40°44′38.5″N 73°50′39.9″W / 40.744028°N 73.844417°W / 40.744028; -73.844417
Area less than one acre
Built 1962–1964
Architect Johnson, Philip, Lev Zetlin
NRHP Reference # 09000942[1]
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. The New York State Pavilion was designed for the 1964 New York World's Fair by architects Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin, and built between 1962 and 1964.


Shadow of a commercial jetliner crosses the pavilion in 1981.

The pavilion consists of three components of reinforced concrete and steel construction: the "Tent of Tomorrow", Observation Towers, and "Theaterama":[2]

  • 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. Once the red ceiling tiles were removed from the pavilion in the late 1970s, the terrazzo floor was subject to the elements of weather and was ruined.[2]
  • 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 "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).[2]
  • 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.[2]

After the fair[edit]

The observatory towers in 2006

The New York State Pavilion was one of two pavilions retained for future use; the other was the United States Pavilion building. No reuse was ever found for the U.S. Pavilion, however, and it became severely deteriorated and vandalized; the U.S. Pavilion building was ultimately demolished in 1977.

The New York State Pavilion found no residual use other than as 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.

In the decades after the fair closed,it remained 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 Texaco terrazzo floor map of New York State was subject to the elements of weather 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 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.[3]

Restoration plans[edit]

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.[1]

In the fall of 2013, New York City's 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.[3]

Renewed interest was shown in the pavilion's restoration in early 2014, the 50th anniversary of its opening.[4]

In July 2014, the pavilion received about $5.8 million for restoration.[5] The New York Mets also donated some money for the preservation effort.[6] However, the pavilion was damaged the same month by arsonists.[7]

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.[8] All work was completed by August 15th of 2015.

Cultural references[edit]

The Pavilion is the subject of Modern Ruin, a documentary premiered May 22, 2015, by filmmaker and teacher Matthew Silva.[8][9]


External links[edit]