When the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow closed in 1965, most of the structures were either hauled-off or demolished.
A few buildings found new uses (the Hall of Science and Queens Museum), but everything else was pretty much left to disintegrate.
Exhibit A is the Philip Johnson-designed, New York State Pavilion. The iconic still-futuristic structure is visible for miles, and the scene of the final battle in Men In Black.
At its base is a giant terrazzo map of New York State. Paid for by Texaco, its 567 tiles (each weighing approximately 400 pounds), not only was the “world’s largest roadmap”, it conveniently pinpointed the location of all the Texaco gas stations in the Empire State.
For decades, the mosaic sat exposed to the weather, while proposals for reuse of the structure came and went, preservationists bemoaned its decay, and both the state and city dithered, unable to find the will or money to save it.
Starting a couple of years ago though, things started happening. Some folks from the University of Pennsylvania studied and restored a small section of the map, and last year, the state declared the Pavilion a landmark, which made funding action possible.
This past summer and autumn, volunteers under the aegis of the city Parks and Recreation Department, removed the vegetation that had sprouted (and was cracking the tiles apart). A layer of sand was then placed over the floor, and then a geotextile was placed on top, finally covered by a layer of gravel.
At least things aren’t getting any worse.
(Thanks to Patricia Bertuccio and Michelle Langlie of the Parks Department for the info, and Daniel Avila for the restoration photos).