joy magnetism: It's a great, big beautiful tomorrow!

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's a great, big beautiful tomorrow!

Magnet #226 - Unisphere, Symbol of the 64-65 World's Fair, Queens

So, this weekend is Open House New York, where several buildings and attractions in all five boroughs of NYC open their doors for the public.

I freakin' love this weekend - where else can you get more than a hundred tours around town - all free! They have several different types of tours, geared toward kids, architecture, sustainability, the arts, etc.

The only problem I have with OHNY (besides that it's sponsored by Target who hasn't built a damn Manhattan location yet, thus taunting the crap out of me), is that it's only for a weekend, and it's virtually impossible to do more than a few tours in that amount of time. And, then, you have to localize your tours, so that you're not running around all five boroughs like a madwoman.

For example, this is the first year that I'm doing Queens. Yesterday, we did the Trolley tour around Flushing Meadows/Corona Park, where we had a young tour guide tell us about the different areas inside the park. And later today, we're hopefully going to be able to make it on to the Architectural tour.

Another obsession of mine are the two World's Fairs (1939, 1964) that NYC has hosted, both in this park. The Unisphere on this magnet was built by US Steel for the 64 World's Fair, and was meant to symbolize peace through understanding. Corporate sponsorships were the order of the day, and it allowed them to unveil several supercool things to the world, such as:
  • Disney launched the Carousel of Progress and It's a Small World.
  • Ford debuted their Mustang, in this weird automated carousel of cars thing, where people could get in line and ride the car of their choice. Some of the guys that used to climb through the fences to avoid the entry fees say that they used to just come for the day, and ride the Mustang, timing their places in line to "get" the Mustang. And then once it was over, queue up again for it.
  • The Vatican brought Michelangelo's Pieta all the way from home!
  • The Belgian Village featured Belgium Waffles - which stands out for fairgoers as one of the most memorable foods of the fair.
  • Clairol launched some sort of hair product there (hairspray?), and they hired several local girls to be hair models.
  • New York State's Tent of Tomorrow Pavilion was a highlight (/pun intended) of the fair. I've heard from a coworker that it was just the coolest thing ever because of the glass ceiling. But also on the floor of the pavilion, Texaco sponsored a to-scale roadmap that you could walk all over, and see all of the Texaco locations in NY. Pretty nifty. Nowadays, the steel infrastructure is definitely falling by the wayside, its last bit of notoriety being used as spaceships for Men in Black.
  • Robert Moses (one of the city's most renowned planners/builders/all around city-shaper) had built an almost 10,000-square-foot panorama of the city - with almost 900,000 buildings! You can still visit it today at the Queens Museum of Art - and it's superfabulous. I could literally spend hours looking at it. It's basically in this giant room, with a veranda kind of thing along the wall, and you look down on it trying to pick out certain buildings and stuff.
Oh, I do tend to go on about this stuff, this is probably my longest post ever. Sorry - it's just fascinating the amount of money that people poured into this fair that ended up pretty much a financial disaster.

Anyway, so most of this fun stuff you can find out online, or at the terrific Queens Museum in Flushing, there's actually a superdupercool documentary about the fair that PBS did. They show actual footage of the fair, and interview several attendees. So freakin' neat.

Anyway, off to the fair...grounds!

So, I wrote all of the above before the 2-hour walking tour with an architecture professor and his PPT with superneat personal pictures of the fair. All of that, plus reading a postcard book on the way home, might qualify me to be able to give that tour all on my own now. Heh. Anyone want to go to Queens? I'll totally FB my staycation in Queens sometime tonight. Odd. I had wanted this year to be my Get-to-know-Brooklyn year, but it's turning out to be my Get-to-know-Queens year, instead. Heh.

Those that know me, know that I love eta'ing my own posts. But, here's the FB pic album of the weekend.

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The Geek said...

See, if you keep telling me all these cool things about NY, I may have to revisit and change my dismal opinion of the city (which was formulated because of horrible weather and that year's definitely-not-made-for-me boyfriend). Since joining FB I've reconnected with a bunch of high school friends and they all live in NY for some reason. Maybe I need to visit them and give the city another chance.

joy said...

I gotta be honest. I'm the biggest evangelist for this town. I'm a transplant since 1995, and I LOVE playing a tourist here. It's the best city in the world!

(Yes, yes, there are about 22 million people that get underfoot, but you just have to nav around them, is all. Heh.)