The Panorama of the five boroughs of New York City at the Queens Museum of Art has been on my to-see list for many, many years. Finally, the occasion of a visit by my cousin Jeremey’s lovely friend, Jess, prompted us to make the trip out to the old World’s Fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. We were not disappointed by it and other exhibits at the museum.
First, a bit about the museum building. According to the museum website, the building sits on the sites of both the 1939 and 1964 Worlds Fairs and is the only structure to survive from the 1939 fair. Its original name was the New York City Building and it contained exhibits about city municipal agencies. Later, it became the home of the UN General Assembly from 1946-1950, during which time, among other events, voting on the partition of Palestine occurred. Much later in 1972, the building was turned over to the Queens Center for Art and Culture, later renamed Queens Museum of Art. Period photographs on the museum’s History of… web page.
Earlier, for the 1964 fair, it once again became the New York City Pavilion and the primary display this time was the Panorama. To ensure every single building extant in 1964 was displayed, Robert Moses commissioned Raymond Lester Associates to build this model and assigned a 1% margin of error stipulation. It took three years to research and build. Updates were made through 1970 and once again in 1992 when 60,000 buildings were changed (the reason the World Trade towers still anchor lower Manhattan.) It’s a fabulous thing to see, truly.
It’s so worth the trip to see this Museum. For vehicle-challenged NYC dwellers, it is accessible by subway – take the 7 train to the Willets Pt.-Mets stop (you’ll see CitiField and the US Tennis Center). Be aware that the 7 does not run between Port Authority and Queensboro Plaza on weekends for the next couple of months. You can pick up the 7 in Queens – I took the R from the PA to the Jackson Heights stop and transferred there. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the museum.