Welcome to the first week in a 12-week travel series on Queens, New York City’s most ethnically diverse borough! This first week starts off with a bang! Charged with viewing my city from above, I headed straight to the Queens Museum of Art for the very first time in my life…and I’m a Queens native! Inside, I bee-lined straight to the museum’s permanent and most popular exhibit.
Behold, the Panorama of the City of New York!!!
Without rising more than 20 feet, I saw the entire city’s five boroughs spread before me. And I didn’t have to worry about wind conditions, precipitation, cloud cover, crowds, and steep admission prices!
In 1939 and 1964, New York City hosted the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where the museum is currently located. Commissioned by the city’s most famous urban planner, Robert Moses, the panorama was built for the 1964 fair and the project was spearheaded by an architectural model making firm. It took 100 people to build it in 3 years. At present, the model is 9,335 square feet and contains every NYC building built before 1992 to total 895,000 individual structures. Sure enough, I even managed to pinpoint my own house built in the 1920s!
The panorama has remained open to the public ever since its debut in 1964. If you are an architecture, history, or NYC buff, you’ll definitely love this exhibit. As a native New Yorker, it was fun for me to point out the changes that have occurred in the city since 1992. For example, the building construction of the AOL Time Warner Center, 4 Times Square/Condé Naste, and the glass addition to the Hearst building, the rezoning and subsequent development of the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts particularly in the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and more recently Red Hook, and the gentrification of the Lower East Side, Harlem, and Meatpacking District was yet to happen. Heck, even Battery Park City, created by filling in an area of the Hudson River with the rocks and soil excavated from the World Trade Center construction site, was in the panorama but without any buildings. The panorama certainly cannot keep up with the constant, fast paced changes of NYC yet it still manages to capture the incredible vastness and diversity of the place. To see more pictures of the panorama, click here.
Before you leave the museum, make sure to check out the other worthwhile exhibits. The small Tiffany glass exhibit is worth a stop. Artist, Louis Tiffany had his studio and furnace in neighboring Corona. And the World’s Fair memorabilia from both 1939 and 1964 are telling indicators of life within the United States and the world during those periods.
Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368-3398
Wed – Sun: 12 – 6pm
Suggested Donation: Adults $5; Seniors & Children $2.50; Members & Children Under 5 FREE
7 Train to either 111th Street or Mets-Willets Point