World’s Fairs are big to-dos over nothing

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I may well be in a minority, but I have difficulty understanding the media hoopla about a 50th anniversary commemorating the 1964-65 World’s Fair (“A Bright Tomorrow,” April 25-May 1).

I am old enough to recall attending the ’39 and ’64 fairs, and while there were interesting exhibits in the ’64 fair, the Unisphere and several others, it was not spectacular. Even use of the word “World’s” could be questioned since many of the western European countries declined to participate.

It was a financial disaster, as was the ’39 fair. The ’39 fair returned bond holders 40 cents on the dollar, whereas the ’64 fair returned 19.2 cents on the dollar.

At the conclusion of the ’64 fair, ignoring the fact its venue had been Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a part of the city park system, it was left with a plethora of structures that did not belong in an urban park and would not have been allowed in Central, Prospect or Bronx parks and rightfully so.

As a result, politicians have over the past 50 years used them as an excuse to dump more structures and permit park misuse. Notwithstanding Flushing Meadows is the second most-used park in the city, it is the most abused, treated as real estate and not a park.

Lost in the euphoria for this celebration is the fact that to construct the fair and its use, FMCP was shut down for about five years, depriving people of its use. A proper remembrance of the ’64 fair would be to remove those alien structures and insist the city allocate funds to make FMCP the park Robert Moses promised when he took it for the fair but never delivered.

Indeed, if while walking around Meadow Lake one wanted to sit down on a bench to admire the lake, he or she could not because there are no benches, nor have there been any for 50 years.

Benjamin Haber


Posted 12:00 am, May 5, 2014
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Reader feedback

kate from Jackson Heights says:
I am really kind of disturbed by the sourness of this reader. While I appreciate the thoughts, facts and the right to say them, I can only respond that the fairs hold nothing but good memories for a lot of people. Many families enjoyed the excitement of seeing things they never would otherwise have seen, from museum treasures to feats of magic, to technology of the future. My parents actually met at the fair in 1965 and married shortly thereafter. My father worked at the fair and it gave him a huge opportunity to start his career.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at Flushing Meadow park and stood in awe and amazement of the structures that remain. I remember the map on the floor of the pavilion, and stood looking up for long periods of time wondering what the two towers had been built for. They made it a special place, and I only wish they had been better preserved.

While this reader may have a lot of facts in his pocket, I wonder if it is not best once in a while to lighten up and just enjoy history. If all the mismanagement and politics are true, I ask the reader what he ever did to rectify the situation. Seems all some people can do is nothing, but rain on other people's parade.
May 5, 2014, 8:32 am
agree from queens says:
I agree with Kate. I went to the World's Fair as a child and kept the souvenirs I got there for years. It was a wonderful experience. The writer sounds like all of the under 50 generation who do not understand the value of a manned space program. These are the people who live life on the couch with their Ipads on their laps instead of going out and experiencing life.
May 5, 2014, 10:28 am
Richard from Flushing Meadow Corona Park says:
Buzzkill Benjamin you are very much in the minority!

Take a look at the majority who took to Flushing Meadow Corona Park to commemorate the World's Fairs:
May 6, 2014, 11:38 am

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