This past Monday, I had a chance to head to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Of course I had my eyes open for anything that might be part of the movie, but my main reason for being there, was just to take in the site for what it is today: A large, sprawling, vibrant park.
From handball to never-ending soccer, to kite flying and barbecues (only in permitted areas, of course!) the park was vibrant and alive. Drum kits were being setup near the Unisphere. A few college-aged kids enjoyed the Maloof skate park behind the New York State Pavilion, and a van of tourists had pulled up next to the theatre to take pictures of the unisphere, many pantomiming holding the weighty globe on their backs, or balancing the sculpture on a fingertip via forced perspective.
The Queens Zoo was also alive with parents bringing their small children to zoo, many for the first time. The zoo offers an amazing oasis, with just the back side of the zoo's proximity to the highway to give away its urban locale.
Great green spaces like Flushing Meadows Corona Park allow people to play, yes. But they also allow the city itself to breathe. this land is not merely a piece of undeveloped real estate. It is a lung for the borough of Queens.
As Robert Moses is quoted in saying in Robert Caro's The Power Broker regarding the future of the park after the fair was over:
"Visitors to such an exposition carry away indelible impressions, lively lessons, enduring satisfactions, and pleasant memories, but what finally remains in the ground when the pageant has faded! When the brickbats have been removed by the wreckers and scavengers, and the park planners have to work is of more concern to the next generation than any spectacle, however gorgeous."
Nearly fifty years later, a large portion of the park remains reserved for both the citizens of New York, and the city itself to collect its breath, and reflect.
Here's hoping that doesn't change in the next fifty years either.