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Queens Chronicle

No more World’s Fairs

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Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 2:02 pm, Thu May 29, 2014.

Dear Editor:

A third World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park? (“Dreaming of the World’s Fair, past and future,” Editorial, May 22) It is a foolish and misguided suggestion for myriad reasons.

There is chaos in much of Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Far East, so the event could hardly encompass “the World.” Fairs are notorious money losers. The 1939-40 New York City fair was a financial disaster, its bond holders receiving back 40 cents on the dollar. The 1964-65 fair was even worse, its bond holders receiving back 19.2 cents on the dollar. The second was such a disaster that in March 1965, a group of bankers and politicians asked showman Billy Rose to take it over. He declined, stating, “I’d rather be hit by a baseball bat” and “Cancer in its last stage never attracted me very much.”

Furthermore, Robert Moses, the driving force behind the fairs, promised that at the end we would be left with a first-rate municipal park. That never happened. Instead we received a constantly underfunded park that has been the dumping ground, courtesy of myopic politicians who view it as real estate, for all sorts of structures that do not belong in a park. While Robert Moses did accomplish many laudable things for New York City, the fairs were not among them.

A fair in FMCP would shut down the park for about five years, depriving the people of Queens of its use. FMCP is used mostly by the less-privileged who do not have summer homes in the Hamptons and most likely not even a backyard.

And we can be sure at the end of a third fair, a variety of additional debris would be left.

Frederick Law Olmsted, who created Central and Prospect parks, said: “If scenic parks are to be well placed, well bounded, well arranged and above all, well preserved, dealers must necessarily be excluded from management. Politicians also, if the work is to run smoothly.” The mistreatment of FMCP would cause Mr. Olmsted to turn over in his grave.

Any public official who buys into the nonsense of depriving people of a municipal park for years is, in my opinion, unfit to hold office. If they want a fair, they should find a nonpark venue.

I doubt anyone including the Chronicle would support a World’s Fair in Central, Prospect or Bronx parks. FMCP, the little people’s park, should not be treated differently.

Benjamin M. Haber

Welcome to the discussion.