A Message from Commissioner Adrian Benepe
Flushing Meadow Corona Park is one of the greatest places in New York City. It has become the keystone park of Queens and a recreation and cultural hub for the region; yet, it was once just a dusty wasteland, "a valley of ashes" as F. Scott Fitzgerald dubbed it in the Great Gatsby. Its poetic, phoenix-like transformation from ash dump to oasis was driven by Queens' residents, the City and 1939 and 1964 World's Fair held in this park. These fairs put this park on the world's stage, and it has stayed there, hosting the United Nations General Assembly for five years, three baseball World Series at Shea Stadium, and the U.S. Open.
More than a fairground and a site of major athletic competitions, this park is used every day by people from the entire region. People come to play soccer on the new turf fields, to stroll along the Flushing Bay promenade, to enjoy the sounds of a summer concert, to visit one of the park's outstanding cultural institutions, or simply to relax in a beautiful garden. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation are committed to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. We look forward to developing new recreation facilities, enhancing the collection of great public art, and continuing its maintenance and its growth as a terrific place for all New Yorkers.
A Brief History of Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Today, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is 1,255 acres of athletic fields, landscaped meadows, lakes, fountains, playgrounds, stadia, museums and a zoo.
Prior to 1939 the park was a massive dumping ground for ashes. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and other city planners laid out an elaborate scheme to replace these ashes with beauty and excitement. They proposed transforming the site into a World's Fair.
A substantial percentage of the fair's profits were to be allocated toward the creation of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Unfortunately, the 1939 World's Fair failed as a financial venture, leaving the dream for a park unrealized. Subsequently, the site stood largely idle until the early 1960's when a new World's Fair Corporation formed to sponsor a sequel to 1939, with Robert Moses again at the project's helm. Like the first one, the 1964 Fair failed to yield profits, but it left behind several prominent structures which have provided a foundation for the unique urban oasis Moses had envisioned. In 1967 the fairgrounds were officially turned over to NYC Parks & Recreation.
Today, Flushing Meadows Corona Park finds itself in the midst of an exciting and historic period. A comprehensive multiyear, multimillion-dollar capital program, which began in 1987, is well underway. To date, the Queens Wildlife Center, the Queens Museum of Art, Theatre in the Park, three dinosaur theme playgrounds, four new highway entrances and more have been reconstructed. Of course, the park remains a haven for the millions that play, picnic, read, relax, and bathe in the sun.
State of the art community facilities are in the process of being built, these include a new indoor pool and ice rink & a recreation center. I hope you all enjoy yourselves and remember the park enjoys having you visit.
- Estelle Cooper, Assistant Commissioner, Queens