World’s Fair map could be in peril

Benepe viewing World's Fair Map

Benepe viewing World's Fair Map

From NY Daily News

The city has let ice blanket a faux-marble road map from the 1964 World’s Fair multiple times this winter instead of dishing out $20,000 to protect the cartographic curiosity, Queens News has learned.

Preservationists fear frost will dislodge or fracture panels on the 9,000-square-foot map in the New York State Pavilion, a crumbling, yet iconic, relic of the fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Even more galling to preservationists is that conservators devised a shelter plan for the map just last year — to bury its panels under fabric, sand and gravel, blocking water and sunlight that feeds crack-widening weeds. But the city still hasn’t carried it out.

The interior of the New York State Pavillion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where a giant roadmap of New York State from the 1964 Worlds Fair is in danger of cracking due to extreme weather conditions.

The interior of the New York State Pavillion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where a giant roadmap of New York State from the 1964 Worlds Fair is in danger of cracking due to extreme weather conditions.

“I don’t understand why it’s taking so long,” said Professor Frank Matero, a preservation expert at the University of Pennsylvania, who helped develop the never-implemented program.

John Krawchuk, historic preservation director for the Parks Department, said the city bought enough fabric and some sand for Matero’s plan, but stopped $20,000 short of paying for all the required materials.

He admitted the city has the cash but decided to direct it elsewhere. “We have many needs throughout the entire parks system that are always competing for funds,” he said.

Instead, the city is hoping Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Administrator Estelle Cooper can raise $20,000 through a park-oriented nonprofit she runs, before springtime sun nourishes the weeds, Krawchuk said.

But preservationists wondered how the city undertook a project to remove and restore parts of the 567-panel map in 2007 — through a $40,000 grant and $80,000 in city funds — with little foresight for the rest of the map.

The city’s refusal to foot the $20,000 bill reminded history buffs of how the once-grand pavilion was allowed to deteriorate for four decades after the fair closed in 1965.

“It really shows neglect is a theme with this structure,” said Greg Godfrey, president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park World’s Fair Association.

“If their end result was to preserve [the map], why would you start ripping out parts without having a strategy for the entire?” Godfrey asked.

Contractor Vincent DeLazzero, whose late father, Robert, built the road map while heading Bronx-based Port Morris Tile & Terrazzo, also blasted the city’s disregard for the panels.

“It’s a treasure,” said DeLazzero, adding he would have helped raise $20,000 if the city had contacted him. “There’s never been anything like it.”

Meanwhile, the city is reviewing the results of a $200,000 study on the stability of the pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow rotunda — the columns and cable-suspension roof that surround the map.

“Demolition is always a possibility,” Krawchuk warned


When Vintage New York Is Lost

From the NY Times

February 8, 2009
When Diners Pick Up Stakes, and Vintage New York Is Lost

Hey, Alabama, you want a piece of us?

Olde New York, that is.

Now that an Alabama couple have purchased the Cheyenne Diner on Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street, they say they are eyeing the historic Ridgewood Theater in Queens, which played movies from 1916 until it closed last year.

Ridgewood Theatre

Ridgewood Theatre

La Barge, Wyo., snared an even more revered restaurant, the Moondance Diner, which sat near the Holland Tunnel and was New York’s oldest diner.

A Sicilian town is taking an East Village video store’s legendary collection of 50,000 movies.

And from Pakistan came interest in another New York icon: the Astroland Rocket at Coney Island.

No, it’s not the faltering economy that’s putting venerable New York up for sale and shipment. It may be just coincidental that there is a flurry of outliers who are in a New York state of mind and want a part of it.

“We’re not taking anything from New York — the diner needed saving,” said Cheryl Pierce, who with her husband, Vince, bought the Moondance in 2007 for $7,500. They spent $40,000 to move it 2,125 miles to La Barge in western Wyoming, where it opened on Jan. 12 after a delay to replace a roof collapsed by snow.

It is hardly a new phenomenon, of course. New York has been exporting its bounties, willingly and unwillingly, since the days of Peter Stuyvesant and marauding redcoats.

More recently, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, cast-iron eagles from the old Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal have turned up at suburban estates, a kiosk from the 1939 World’s Fair is now a restaurant in New Jersey, parts of an 18th-century ship found at 175 Water Street were sent to the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., and old subway cars are swimming with the fishes as artificial reefs off the Delaware coast.

Many years ago, when New York saw no more need for all of its elevated lines, it sold the iron for scrap to the Japanese, who were particularly happy to receive it, said Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx County historian. “Put it this way,” he said, “we got it back in the form of artillery shells and kamikazes.”

Read the complete article…………