VIDEO: World’s Fair, A Crumpling Legacy

by Marion Halftermeyer and Steven Rosenbaum

Millions milled in and out of the New York State Pavillion, in awe of the colorful glass ceiling, admiring the tiled floor depicting the state map. It was 1964 and the world was on the cusp of a technological revolution. Space was being explored, and the future was here with color TV, a picture-phone, among other innovations.

Architect Philip Johnson’s design for the towering pavilion was iconic for its time architecturally, and many expected it to be a lasting structure to commemorate the fair and the time, much like the Eiffel Tower is the remnant of the  fair that occurred in Paris in 1889.

But last week as the grounds  opened for the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair, the lack of upkeep was clear. The structure is rusting, and much of the tile floor is destroyed. It has lain abandoned for the past half century and now city officials are debating what to do with it.

Preservation and restoration will cost $40 million. Tearing it down would be a much cheaper price tag of $14 million.

Is the Tent of Tomorrow crucial to the legacy of the 1964 World’s Fair?

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