The New York World's Fair Artifacts
of Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Exhibit Guide

by joseph tiraco


The Unisphere   of Flushing meadows is perhaps the most popular American sculpture of all time. When the fountains run, the sculpture becomes elegance in motion, an embodiment of the lofty purpose its creators intended - the glorification of man's achievements . What more can be asked of an artwork than the indelible conveyance of such a message?

Pope's Throne
             Time Capsules

The inscriptions on Flushing meadows' two surviving inscribed stone monuments are chiseled deep, still sharp, but these are public monuments, wards of the state, unkempt utilitarian props in a busy city park;   both inhabit shady nooks just off the main path, and both exude mystical qualities uniquely their own.


The Time Capsules are buried beneath a round, squat commemoration stone just high enough to serve as a picnic table ringed by trees and matching benches, making the spot irresistible to big families on Sunday outings.  Sometimes, usually in springtime, the stone is festooned as a giant birthday cake for children's parties, an enchanted forest in miniature.

Go three times around and sit quietly, facing North.
Let subtle influences connect you to an event 5,000 years in the future.
How much can you see,  can you experience,  can you walk away unchanged?


The Popes Throne   Here is the spiritual center of the fairgrounds, and perhaps, the soul of Queens. The throne was once appointed with a sumptuous sister site, the   Pope's Contemplation Garden   a gift for the visiting pontiff from the school children of New York City.  The garden remained visually stunning and sensually overpowering throughout the Sixties, fell into neglect in the Seventies, and vanished, hacked down and turned into lawn grass by the Eighties.

The carved stone seems austere without its fragrant cloak for adornment, though the faithful that flock here for private contemplation seem unmindful of the deep chill. They kneel before or sit atop the throne and sometimes leave store bought flowers behind as offerings.

Pope Paul's idealic retreat has become a ball field. Ball players romping in the phantom garden of this off-the-beaten-path public space - which is devoid of comfort stations - occasionally abandon the playing field and wander amid the ghostly efflorescence to urinate. The poor fellows see only grass and know not the full extent of their profanity.

One late September Sunday afternoon, two young lovers curled up in a corner of the throne, bill and coo and giggle at passers by. They endure the excruciating death of day, awaiting the flaming ball's dip below the western horizon, and the stone slab's metamorphosis into the alter of Venus. They await the oldest ritual known to man,   the wafting aroma of jasmine and roses mingling like restless spirits with the cool night air.



The Plaza outside the train station contains a delightful dalliance, an array of sidewalk mosaics which should be listed in all the city’s tour guides as must see, but they are not and remain somewhat obscure.

Venus by Salvador Dali   is froth with his sardonic wit and playful spirit. The love goddess is seen as a seductive mermaid (a sop to Botticelli?) and Dali, not totally out of character, could have encoded his model’s telephone number in the tile arrangement, sort of bathroom graffiti Esperanto.


Robert Moses by Andy Warhol .   New York City would be a very different place had the Master Builder decided to become a tennis bum. After his brutal defeat in the 1934 gubernatorial election, the thought might have crossed his mind. Anyway, it was certainly a stroke of genius to mark his masterpiece ( the 1964 New York World’s Fair) with this work of genius. Andy seems to have captured the sparkle in his eyes perfectly.


Fountain Of The Planets   from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Without a doubt, the most breathtaking mosaic in the collection. The photo seen here is only a small part of a grand scheme, which is too large to capture on foot; the photographer must back away to an unacceptably large distance in order to fit the entire mosaic in the picture.


Time Capsules from 1939 and 1964.   Yes, two more time capsules, these buried beneath mosaic covers. Your relatives of the future will get tennis elbow digging up all the 50 foot deep artifacts, unless, of course, science fiction comes true, in which case they will simply think them to the surface.



Fountain of the Fairs   was the centerpiece of both the 1939/1940 and 1964/1965 New York World's Fairs. The fountain is made up of five pieces, the Unisphere fountain, three large sluices forming the heart of a promenade leading to the Unisphere, and the Fountain of the Planets - a large round cauldron that no longer works.


Victory   Here is a prime example of why Fountain of the Planets was not pieced together.