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If you saw the movie Men in Black, you have to remember how much fun it was to see the Worlds Fair Unisphere (eventually blown up), the two towers that were supposedly capped with flying saucers and Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith racing upside-down through the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
OK, so they made a few wisecracks about Queens, but it still put the borough on the movie map and it was lots of fun to see the good guys beat the space bug in our hometown of Queens.
My mother has told me a lot about her visit as a kid to the 1964 Worlds Fair. There were exhibits about progress with robots and a rotating auditorium; the famous The Pieta of Michelangelo was on display and people could only watch it briefly while they passed by on a moving sidewalk; national pavilions featuring crafts and exhibits; and great food such as the then-new taste sensation, Belgian waffles, buried under strawberries and whipped cream. My mom remembered going after school with friends, passing through the flag-lined entrance and standing on line for the best exhibitions.
Many decades ago Flushing Meadows Corona Park was once considered a dumpy, littered and almost dangerous place. Then, in honor of the 150th anniversary of President George Washingtons inauguration, the Worlds Fair of 1939-1940 was held on the refurbished and built-up grounds. In 1964 a second fair was held, and once again Queens was front and center. Apparently, developer Robert Moses planned the park to be a Versailles of America with beautiful lakes, pools and connecting lanes.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is a wonderful place to visit and experience. Arthur Ashe Stadium is there, home to the US Open, which brings brilliant tennis talent, hordes of visitors (some 25,000 fans) by subway, LIRR and bus and, of course, that great blimp that flies overhead. No matter how old and sophisticated you get, blimps still make you point and smile. You can include Shea Stadium (home to the New York Mets) on the parks list of nearby attractions, as well as the Queens Museum of Art and plenty of other sights.
Back to the Unisphere. It is 140 feet high, made of stainless steel, weighs 380 tons and is officially a landmark.
So why not see the world without even leaving Queens?
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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