Location: Flushing Bay, (between Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck Parkway), Queens
This 1,255-acre park has historical, recreational and environmental significance. The former dumping ground labeled a valley of ashes by F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby has become Queens‘ largest park, and one of New York City‘s flagship parks. The site which is now Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is historically important not just to New York, but to the entire country. In the 1930s, in the period‘s largest reclamation project in the United States, Robert Moses converted the swampy area into a 1,200-acre fairground for the 1939 World‘s Fair.
The fairground-turned-park hosted its second World‘s Fair in 1964. The structures that remained from the two fairs became the foundation for the growing park, and the Unisphere--left from the 1964 Fair and recently designated as a city landmark-- has become the park‘s well-known symbol.
For the five-year span between 1946 and 1950, the first United Nations assembled within the park. Two professional sports facilities located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are Shea Stadium, home to the New York Mets, and the USTA National Tennis Center, available for public play and tournaments. Both are historically significant. Two World Series championships, the Mets 1969 and 1986 victories, took place at Shea Stadium. Since 1978, the United States Open tennis tournament has been held at the National Tennis Center.
The current shape of the park is an oval stretching from Flushing Bay to Union Turnpike. Within the park, there are many places for relaxation and recreation. Among the 124 acres of natural areas are Flushing Creek and Bay, Willow Lake and expanses of meadow and marshland. Meadow Lake--the 84-acre manmade, freshwater lake--is New York City‘s largest lake.
Cultural institutions in the park are plentiful, appealing to a wide variety of interests. Today, the New York Hall of Science, a relic from the 1964 World‘s Fair, houses a hands-on science and technology museum. Fine arts exhibitions, performances and films are presented at the Queens Museum of Art. The visual arts center also displays the world‘s largest architectural model of an urban area. Those who are theatrically inclined can attend a variety of professional and local performances at the World‘s Fair Theaterama in the Queens Theater in the Park. Animal lovers can enjoy the exhibits of North American animals in natural settings at the Queens Wildlife Center. The adjacent Children‘s Farm features domestic animals. The 39-acre Queens Botanical Garden is filled with garden displays and tree and flower collections.
Built in 1962, Shea stadium is home to the New York Mets professional baseball club. Shea Stadium also plays host to entertainment events: The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Elton John are just a few of those that have performed here.
National Tennis Center
The Louis Armstrong Stadium, commonly known as the National Tennis Center, is the home of the United States Open, one of the world‘s four most prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournaments. During the rest of the year, courts are available for public play, instructional programs and tournaments.
New York Hall of Science
Built for the 1964 World‘s Fair, today the facility is New York City‘s only hands-on science and technology museum.
Queens Museum of Art
A visual arts center occupying half the New York City Building, the museum presents a series of fine arts exhibitions, performances, films and an extensive educational program. It is also home to the Panorama of New York City - the world‘s largest architectural scale model of an urban area.
Queens Wildlife Center
This newly rebuilt facility, operated by the New York Zoological Society, reopened in June 1992. North American animals are exhibited on naturalistic grounds, allowing an unusual intimacy between visitors and animals. The Children‘s Farm offers exhibitions of domestic animals.
Playground for All Children
Opened in 1997, this play facility, one of a few of its kind in the entire nation, serves both able-bodied and disabled youngsters. Available to the public and to school and community groups, the playground offers a variety of recreational and instructional activities.
This 84-acre man-made body of sparkling, fresh water is New York City‘s largest lake. A popular spot for boating, fishing, crew and sailing, the water keeps splashing while scores of other recreational activities fill the surrounding athletic fields, bike paths, a model plane facility and picnic areas.
The monumental stainless steel globe, standing 140 feet high, was presented to the 1964 World‘s Fair by United States Steel. Today, it is Queens‘ most recognizable symbol as the centerpiece for the park and it‘s surrounding area is the park‘s most popular meeting place.
This work of art was created Donald Delue for the 1964 World‘s Fair, and serves as the center of the fountain alley.