Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Today, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is a peaceful green oasis attracting families, couples, and kids. But back in the early 1900s, it was a towering, reeking garbage dump that smoldered by day and glowed at night. More than a hundred railroad carloads of Brooklyn’s refuse were dumped here daily, providing succulent meals for hordes of rats “big enough to wear saddles,” as one observer put it.
Enter Robert Moses, city parks commissioner. Looking at the noxious heap, Moses saw not an irredeemable wasteland but a potential park. In 1934, he directed the removal of some 50 million cubic tons of garbage. Through sheer force of will, he won the site two World’s Fairs, costing the city and its backers millions.
Remains of the fairs still dot the 1,225-acre park. Most conspicuous is the 1964 Unisphere, a shining 140-foot-high, 380-ton hollow globe sitting in the middle of a pretty fountain. Other park attractions include a miniature golf course, playgrounds, a botanical garden, zoo, two lakes, and an old-fashioned carousel. Across the street is the huge, 55,000-seat Citi Field, home to the New York Mets.
From Manhattan, take the No. 7 train to Willets Point/Shea Stadium and follow the signs.
Queens Museum of Art
Next to the Unisphere is the Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 718/592-9700, www.queensmuseum.org, noon–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun., suggested admission adults $5, seniors and students $2.50, children under five free), housed in what was the New York City pavilion at both the 1939 and the 1964 World’s Fairs.
Renovated in the late 1990s to the tune of $15 million, the museum presents first-rate temporary exhibitions and houses an unusual permanent exhibit—the New York Panorama. First showcased at the 1964 fair, the panorama is a scale model of the city, showing every single building and house in the five boroughs—some 895,000 of them, built of plastic and wood. One of Moses’ pet projects, the panorama was originally intended to be a serious tool for urban planners but now feels more like a nostalgic work of art.
New York Hall of Science
Ranked as one of the country’s top 10 science museums, the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St., 718/699-0005, www.nyhallsci.org, 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Fri., 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., with extended hours July–Aug., adults $11, seniors and children 2–17 $8) is housed in a dramatic, undulating building—another leftover from the 1964 World’s Fair.
Inside, you’ll find lots of hands-on exhibits, including a distorted room that makes people appear to shrink or grow and an enlarged drop of water showing microscopic organisms going about their daily lives. Out back is a large Science Playground, where kids can learn about the laws of physics.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition