However, last week Borough President Melinda Katz, Parks Department staff and civic leaders participated in a walking tour of the pavilion. The city-owned site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park has fallen into disrepair over the years, and recently various plans for either restoring or demolishing the deteriorating structure have surfaced.
Katz was impressed that close to 75 people attended the tour. She said the structure needs a lot of work, but it should be restored, not torn down.
“I think that it’s an important aspect of our borough,” she said. “I think everyone has a story about this.”
In 2013, the Parks Department released an engineering report stating it would cost $53 million to restore the pavilion and make it safe, $72 million to turn it into a high-concept multi-use facility, and $14 million to tear it down.
“The right direction is to preserve this and save it for generations to come,” Katz said. “It’s not going to happen in one day, but if we don’t start the process, it’s never going to happen.
Designed by architect Philip Johnson, the New York State Pavilion was constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair. The popular exhibit showcasing the state of New York included the Tent of Tomorrow and three towers that served as an observation deck and dining area.
Approximately six million people visited the pavilion during the fair. After the fair, the pavilion hosted concerts and served as a roller rink before it was finally closed for good. The pavilion was featured prominently in the movie Men in Black.
Community Board 4 district manager Christian Cassagnol is pleased that some elected officials are in favor of restoring the pavilion.
“The thought that we’re even willing to take this thing down is silly,” he said. “It shouldn’t only be known because of Men in Black.”
Jean Silva, president of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy, said it’s important to maintain pieces of history in the borough.
“I don’t know if there are words to describe what a beautiful icon this is and what it stood for,” Silva said.