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JOEL Joel's Blog

The Unisphere

08/03/2016

The Unisphere 1Happy Summer! As a veteran of the 1963-64 World's fair I have distinct memories of the Unisphere - the giant globe in the center of the fair. After the fair most of the buildings and rides were demolished but the Unisphere became the centerpiece of Flushing Meadow Park. In its original setting of the fair the Unisphere and its surrounding pool were a giant, forbidding, off-limits symbol of peace, understanding, and the space age. Designed by Gilmore David Clarke the Unisphere stands 120 feet tall and is made out of stainless steel.

It's no longer off limits and has become a giant wading, sprinkler pond for the summer. In the pictures below I tried to get some sense of the hulking size of the sphere that totally dwarfs all the kids below. The last picture is of my mom,my sister, and I on one of our many visits to the fair (my dad took the picture).
The Unisphere 2
The Unisphere 3
The Unisphere 4
The Unisphere 5
The Unisphere 6

PS. In the background of one of the photos you can see the derelict towers made famous in the first Men In Black movie. Originally the towers were very large rotating restaurants and while there have been noises about trying to restore and reopen them, they have been derelict since the fair.

Join the conversation
08/03/2016 John Hollaway
Joel, I too was at the NY World's Fair - both years, in fact. I would have been 12 and 13 years old at the time. I clearly remember, on one of the two trips, a guy in a Bell Jet Pack launching on one side of the Unisphere, flying up over the top, and landing safely on the opposite side. Reminds me of Superman "leaping tall buildings with a single bound". Very impressive. Anyhow, I remember quite a bit about our visits to the fair, and think about it often. I've often thought about re-visiting the Unisphere, but have read it's now a pretty rough neighborhood to venture into. What say you?

John Hollaway
Chambersburg, PA
John,
Visit!
The park is in the best shape it has been in a century. It's very safe except maybe in the middle of the night. You can also visit the Queens Museum (about 200ft away) and in the neighborhood the Science Museum. We are located in Brooklyn on the other side of the city but it's not a very long subway trip.
Near the Unisphere is the tennis stadium and across the subway is the home of the NY Mets.

Factoid: In the area around the park, Flushing and Jackson Heights are spoken the largest number of different languages of any city anywhere in the world. Chinese food in Flushing is amazing, but there is lots and lots of other stuff too. With every language comes another restaurant and cuisine.
08/03/2016 Eric Commarato
I was there, but I don't recall the Unisphere. I was only 4! I do recall my dad pushing me around in some kind of kiddy car you could rent at the Worlds Fair.
08/03/2016 Stan King
Took my girlfriend to the fair and had a good time seeing all the various country pavilions. Fabulous food offered at many of them and all had displays of what made their country great and why they would be a good place to visit. Seems memories are of a much more innocent time. If only to have a peaceful Worlds Fair again.
08/03/2016 Richard Cary
Joel, I was fortunate enough to be taken there by my uncle when I was 13 years old. I certainly remember the Unisphere, but I remember also that we were able to ride in a full size 1964 Ford Falcon convertible that was on a track or monorail. My uncle made us wait until that particular car was available for us to ride in. Within a short time of us attending the fair, he ordered the same convertible, and I went for a ride in the real deal. I have attended a few Mets games and always enjoy seeing the Unisphere. Thanks for the photos!
08/04/2016 Dr. Hans
Thanks for this posting Joel. I was born in '64, but having grown up in Flushing the Unisphere is an icon of my childhood. I used to love wandering around the artifacts that were left behind. For those interested, the Bowery Boys of New York podcast did a great episode on the '64 World's Fair; there is a worthwhile Facebook group called "the New York World's Fair (1964 / 1965)"; before Men in Black the fairgrounds were featured in an episode of McCloud and in a They Might Be Giants video, that I recall; and Write Notepads (of Baltimore) has a series of notebooks corresponding to the NYC boroughs and the Queens version has the Unisphere beautifully letterpressed onto the cover.
08/04/2016 Joseph R. Janutka
COOL!
08/04/2016 Jeff Polaski
Senior class trip 1964, Class 123 of Northeast High School, Philadelphia. By gosh, we saw the future: automated cars going on super-safe traffic on the road while the cars drove themselves and the passengers (no driver, remember?) chatted up a storm inside.

Hershey exhibit was no slouch either.
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