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See How the World's Fairs Totally Transformed a Queens Park


The 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair has thrown the city into fits of nostalgia, sparked a renewed obsession with old photos, and also furthered efforts to save the run-down New York State Pavilion. Well, here's more fuel for the fire: the Parks Department is mounting an exhibition next month at its Arsenal Gallery, and the subject is how both fairs, the 1939 and '64 iterations, essentially drove the transformation of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from a vast, dusty place of industry (picture the Great Gatsby's ash heaps) into a public-serving green space, the city's fourth largest. "Some of the most poignant pictures show the land while it was in the process of being taken from an industrial wasteland and turned into a place fit for human habitation. The people are minute in comparison to this vast area of land, which was a tabula rasa," says Jonathan Kuhn, who oversees all antiquities and sculptures in NYC's parks and attended the fair himself as a six-year-old. He co-curated the exhibit with public art coordinator Jennifer Lantzas. "We're picking images that we hope are striking in that way the fair itself was. It was vehicle for conversion into parkland of what had been nothing—that's the subtext, or maybe the text."

In addition to vintage images, the exhibition will also include books, objects, and other ephemera from the fairs. It launches June 26 and will be on view till August 27; there are two companion lectures. Can't wait till then for a Fair fix? There's a Parks-run festival this Sunday with tours of historic sites as well as displays of memorabilia.

· World's Fair Anniversary Festival [NYC Parks]
· Arsenal Gallery [NYC Parks]
· Relive the 1964 World's Fair Via Awesome Vintage Newsreel [Curbed]
· 50 Years Later, New Yorkers Remember the 1964 World's Fair [Curbed]
· 50 Photos to Celebrate the Start of the 1964 World's Fair [Curbed]
· All World's Fair coverage [Curbed]