New York State Pavilon / Observation Towers / Queens Theatre in the Park
Other than the Unisphere, perhaps the most obvious distinguishing feature of FMCP is the crumbling remains of the New York State Pavilion and its observation towers. The NY State Pavilion was designed by noted architect Philip Johnson. The "Tent of Tomorrow" was made up of 16 100-foot columns supporting a 50,000 sq. foot roof of multicolored translucent panels as well as three towers, measuring 60, 150 and 226 feet tall. The towers could be scaled in "Sky Streak" capsule elevators. The pavilion included a scale model of the new St. Lawrence River hydroelectric plant, NY State industry information, artwork from the 19th-century Hudson River School, and portraits of NY State colonists. Texaco funded a giant map of New York State on the pavilion floor with 567 400-pound mosaic terrazzo panels that featured locations of all of its gas stations in the state.
As with most modernist mid-20th century architecture, temporal style was valued over durability and the magic could never have been expected to last. The roof panels deteriorated and were removed in the 1970s, exposing the map to weather damage. However, the structure still appears sound and could conceivably be renovated, although it would serve no obvious functional purpose. The theatre has continued life as the Queens Theatre in the Park and was undergoing an expansion when I snapped these photos in the spring of 2007. It's definitely a driving destination as it is a dark, scary 20-minute walk from the #7 train.
Next: NY Hall of Science