Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
View of the New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere in July 2006.
Type Public park
Location Queens, NY
United States
Area 897 acres (363 ha)
Created 1939
Operated by Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy
Status Open all year

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadows Park, or simply Flushing Meadows, is a public park in New York City. Located in the borough of Queens, it is between I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) and the Grand Central Parkway, and stretches from Flushing Bay, at the southern edge of LaGuardia Airport, to Union Turnpike. It contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the current venue for the U.S. Open tennis tournament; Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets baseball team; the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Theatre in the Park, the Queens Zoo, and the New York State Pavilion. It formerly contained Shea Stadium, demolished in 2009.

The fourth largest public park in New York City, it was created as the site of the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair and also hosted the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. It was long believed to be 1,255 acres (508 ha) in size, but a survey concluded in 2013 found its actual size to be 897 acres (363 ha) when accounting for major roads and other exclusions within the park's perimeter.[1] This does not take into account a disputed claim, which entails that the neighborhood of Willets Point, at the north edge of the park, is part of the park.[2]

It is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and maintained by the Flushing Meadows–Corona Park Conservancy, a private non-profit. The park is at the eastern edge of the area is encompassed by Queens Community Board 4.[3]


  • History 1
    • World's Fairs 1.1
    • Post-World's Fairs 1.2
  • Description 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


World's Fairs

Aerial view of the Corona Ash Dumps, circa the early 1920s

The park was created from the former dumping ground, which was characterized as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The site, known at the time as the Corona Ash Dumps, which was being filled with ashes from coal-burning furnaces, as well as with horse manure and garbage, was cleared by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in preparation for the 1939-1940 World's Fair. The original name for the new parkland was "Flushing Meadow Park."[4] Faced with having to dispose of the mountains of ashes, Moses strategically incorporated a significant portion of the refuse into the bases of the Van Wyck Expressway running along the eastern side of the park, the nearby Interboro Parkway (now Jackie Robinson Parkway), and the Long Island Expressway that divides the park into north and south halves. The Grand Central Parkway separates a western lobe from the main part of the northern half, while the east-west Jewel Avenue bisects the southern half.

Some of the buildings from the 1939 Fair were used for the first temporary headquarters of the United Nations from 1946 until it moved in 1951 to its permanent headquarters in Manhattan. The former New York City building was used for the UN General Assembly during that time.[5] This building was later refurbished for the 1964 Fair as the New York City Pavilion, featuring the Panorama of the City of New York, an enormous scale model of the entire city.[6] It is one of two buildings that survive from the 1939-40 Fair, and the only one that remains in its original location. (The other is the Belgium exhibition building, disassembled and moved to the campus of Virginia Union University in 1941.) It is the home of the Queens Museum of Art, which still houses, and occasionally updates, the Panorama. The Unisphere, built as the theme symbol for the 1964/1965 World's Fair, is the main sculptural feature of the park. It stands on the site occupied by the Perisphere during the earlier Fair.

In early 1964, the New York City Council added "Corona" to the park's name, so that the park was named "Flushing Meadows-Corona Park", in preparation for the World's Fair. Councilman Edward Sadowsky explained that this was intended to correct an injustice: "The people of Corona have long lived in the aroma of a junkyard or a dump named for their community. Now, when there is something beautiful to be seen, there is no mention of the name Corona."[7]

Post-World's Fairs

Since 1978, the US Open tennis tournament has taken place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. After "Flushing Meadows" became the (secondary) name of the tennis tournament itself, that portion of the park was subsequently named USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Its center court is Arthur Ashe Stadium, and its secondary stadium court is Louis Armstrong Stadium. Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets since 2009, sits at the north end of the park. Shea Stadium, the Mets' previous home, once stood adjacent to the area now hosting Citi Field.

Since the early 1990s, the pavilion's ledges, steps, and fountain grates have been utilized by skateboarders and featured in famous east coast skateboarding videos. In 2010 a skate plaza was built nearby to host the Maloof Money Cup, a skateboarding competition.

By the early 2000s, the park had become the residence of a number of homeless people,[8] who received attention after five abducted, raped, and threatened to kill a woman who had been sitting with her partner at Mets – Willets Point, a nearby subway station.[9]

The $66.3 million Flushing Meadows Natatorium, encompassing an Olympic-sized public indoor pool and an NHL regulation-sized skating rink, opened in 2008. The facility, utilized by schools, leagues and community members of all ages, is the largest recreation complex in any New York City park, at 110,000 square feet (10,000 m2). The complex incorporates features for the physically disabled.[10]


Rental boats are available for rowing and paddleboating on the park's Meadow Lake, which feeds northward into the Flushing River and thence into Flushing Bay. Meadow Lake is the site of rowing activities for non-profit Row New York, with teams practicing on the lake for much of the year.[11] Meadow Lake also hosts the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York, and teams from New York practice in Meadow Lake during the summer months. The American Small Craft Association[12] (TASCA) also houses a fleet of over a dozen 14.5-foot sloop-rigged sailboats, used for teaching, racing and recreation by the club's members. Bicycling paths extend around Meadow Lake and connect to the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway. Paths around Willow Lake, the smaller and higher of the two lakes, in a natural wetlands area in the little-used far southern section of the park, are currently closed to the public.[13] The many recreational playing fields and playgrounds in the park are used for activities that reflect the wide ethnic mix of Queens; soccer and cricket are especially popular.

The park is also the home of Queens Theatre in the Park[14][15] the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, and Terrace on the Park (a banquet and catering facility, the Fair's former helipad).

Closer view of the Unisphere
Shadow of a commercial jetliner crossing the pavilion in 1981.

The New York State Pavilion, constructed as the state's exhibit hall for the 1964 World's Fair, is also a feature of the park. However, no new use for the building was found after the Fair, and the structure sits derelict and decaying.

Other buildings that remained for a while after the Fair's conclusion to see if a new use for them could be found, such as the United States Pavilion, have subsequently been demolished. One such parcel became the site of the Playground for All Children, one of the first playgrounds designed to include handicapped-accessible activities. The design competition for the playground was won by architect Hisham N. Ashkouri; the facility was completed in 1984, and it was refurbished and reopened in 1997.[16]

The Flushing Meadows Carousel operates in the northwestern part of the park.

Major League Soccer established a second team in the New York metropolitan area, New York City FC, and proposed to build a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park by 2016.[17] After heavy community opposition, the team changed its plans and currently plays at Yankee Stadium.

This park also contains three MTA maintenance facilities such as the IND Jamaica Yard, IRT Corona Yard, and the Casey Stengel Bus Depot as well as two stations providing subway and train service to serve this park, one for the IRT subway at Mets-Willets Point, and the LIRR Station also at Mets-Willets Point.

In popular culture

  • In the 1997 movie Men in Black, the saucer-shaped restaurant atop the New York State Pavilion was used as an escape spaceship.
  • During the 1997 episode of The Simpsons titled The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, Homer is stranded at the original World Trade Center and needs to use the bathroom, a bus marked 'Flushing Meadows' passes by and Homer has a vision of a lush green meadow full of toilets while classical music plays.
  • In the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansions, a park based on Flushing Meadows known as Meadows Park is present, it features replicas of the New York State Pavilion and the Unisphere, these are known as the Liberty State Pavilion Towers and the Monoglobe respectively.
  • In the events of Iron Man 2, released in 2010, the fictional Stark Expo is portrayed as being held at Flushing Meadows, simply referred to in the film as "Flushing, New York". The New York State Pavilion was used as the location of several scenes in the film and the Unisphere is used as a plot element at several points during the film's events.


  1. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (May 31, 2013). "How Big Is That Park? City Now Has the Answer". The New York Times. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  2. ^ Honan, Katie (February 11, 2014). "Suit Seeks to Quash Willets West Mall Project". DNA Info. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Queens Community Boards, New York City. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
  4. ^ "Great World Fair for City in 1939 on Site In Queens;...City to Lend New Park". The New York Times. September 23, 1935. 
  5. ^ "Building History". Queens Museum. Retrieved June 20, 2015. 
  6. ^ The Panorama of the City of New York. Queens Museum of Art. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  7. ^ "Bill Adds 'Corona' to Fair Site's Name". The New York Times. February 5, 1964. 
  8. ^ Feuer, Alan (March 25, 2011). "Who Calls Central Park Home? Census Counts 25". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Michael (December 28, 2002). "Squalid Site of Queens Rape Unnoticed by Public Nearby". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Flushing Meadows Corona Park". nycgovparks.org. 
  11. ^ "Strokes of Genius". United Federation of Teachers. 
  12. ^ "About TASCA". The American Small Craft Association.  
  13. ^ http://www.fmcpconservancy.org/mission.htm Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy: mission.
  14. ^ http://www.queenstheatre.org Queens Theatre
  15. ^ "Theater Takes a 180-Degree Turn". 
  16. ^ "Playground for All Children". NYC Parks. Retrieved June 20, 2015. 
  17. ^ David Picker (December 5, 2012). "M.L.S. Promotes Stadium at a Town Hall Meeting".  

External links

  • Official website
  • The Playground For All Children

Entities within the park:

  • New York World's Fair 1964/1965
  • Flushing Meadows Speedskating Club
  • Saving the New York State Pavilion
  • Tent of Tomorrow - New York State Pavilion
  • World's Fair Carousels
  • New York State Pavilion Project