Looking back at the world of tomorrow

It has been a spaceship launching pad in the film Men in Black. An immediately identifiable set piece for any film based in Queens. And now it is a National Treasure. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair this week, the New York State Pavilion has been named as a site worth saving by the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Once the centerpiece of the World’s Fair grounds, and then later turned into a skating rink, the pavilion has been closed to the public since 1976, when its colourful patchwork roof, known as the “Tent of Tomorrow”, was declared unsafe and removed. An estimated $40m is needed to repair the structure, and the National Trust is now helping with the campaign to raise the funds.

The public rarely gets to enter the pavilion—an exception being this Tuesday, when crowds lined up to peek inside the historic building—but visitors to the Queens Museum can get an idea of what it was like to visit the World’s Fair in the Jet Age. Located on the former fairgrounds in what is now Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the museum has its entire World’s Fair Collection on view in open storage, giving the public access to more than 10,000 objects related to the two expositions in 1939 and 1964. All photos courtesy Queens Museum, unless otherwise credited.