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Queens Chronicle

State Pavilion project breaks ground

Work to restore Tent of Tomorrow and towers enters its next phase

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Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:39 pm, Thu Nov 21, 2019.

Symbolic ground has finally been broken on the preservation project for the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a plan that has been in the works since September 2015.

“This is an important structure in this park, and it’s an important part of our history in New York City,” said Community Board 7 Parks Chairwoman Kim Ohanian. “We need to remember that structures like this belong here and should be taken care of.”

The Pavilion was created for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair and includes the “Tent of Tomorrow,” and three observation towers, as well as the “Theaterama,” now the Queens Theatre.

“This pavilion was erected to embody the architecture essense of Space Age futurism,” said NYC Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver, who attended the 1964 World’s Fair as a 4-year old.

The edifice has since sat mostly unused and has been deteriorating for years. Petitions from the community and nonprofit organizations, such as People for the Pavilion, rallied to turn the towers into a community space. Backing from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz saved the landmark.

“I knew that this could be an unbelievably spectacular tourist attraction for people from throughout the world,” said Katz, who has been a champion for the project since taking office in 2014. On Nov. 5, Katz was elected Queens district attorney and shared her excitement at breaking ground at the Pavilion in her last weeks as borough president. “This is a great way to end this week for me.”

Katz cites her father as inspiration for the project. “Every time we would pass Flushing Meadows Corona Park, my father would take a look at the New York State Pavilion and say, ‘Isn’t that a shame?’ And I grew up thinking, ‘Isn’t that a shame?’”

Katz has contributed the majority of the $24 million funding. Mayor de Blasio and Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) have also contributed to the project, which is in its third and final stage with a projected completeion date of March 2021.

Silver outlined the project’s goals, which include “significant structural steel and concrete repairs, a waterproof plaza and basement, electrical upgrades, stair replacement and color architectual lighting.”

City Parks Department Queens Borough Commisioner Michael Dockett was among the crowd to join Katz, Ohanian and Silver to break ground. The parents of Christian Doran, co-founder of People for the Pavilion, were also invited to participate in place of their son, who tragically passed in 2014.

Before breaking ground, Katz said she had never thought she would see the project come into fruition, but is excited to see that has changed. “The Queens Museum is lit up, the Unisphere is lit up, and now the New York State Pavilion will also be lit up and taken out of the darkness.”

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