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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Jurassic Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Jurassic Playground, like Triassic Playground across Meadow Lake, was created to commemorate the Sinclair Oil “Dinoland” exhibit at the 1964-65 World’s Fair held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The popular exhibit held nine fiberglass dinosaurs sculpted by Louis Paul Jonas: a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Corythosaurus, Anklyosaurus, Ornitholestes, Apatosaurus, Trachadon, and Struthiomimus. Jonas also has work displayed in the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian.

The Mesozoic Era, sometimes called the Age of Reptiles, began approximately 245 million years ago and ended some 64.4 million years ago. It was during this era that the continents separated and began to take on their current configuration. The era is broken down into three major periods: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. The Jurassic Period began about 208 million years ago and lasted 64 million years, and is itself divided into Early, Middle, and Late Epochs. French geologist Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) named the period for the rock formations of the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland.

The Jurassic Period is best known for its most famous life-form, the dinosaur; however it is sometimes called “The Age of Cycads” due to the proliferation of the palm-like species Cycas revoluta. Conifers were particularly widespread throughout Jurassic forests as well. One such conifer, the Norfolk pine (Araucaria excelsa), still exists today in the South Pacific. Single-cell organisms such as flagellates flourished in Jurassic seas, while thriving sponges and corals resulted in a tremendous amount of reef building. The variety among worms, jellyfish, sea urchins, crabs, and mollusks increased during the period, and several ancient species continued to evolve toward their current forms. Fossils from the period also provide evidence of flies, beetles, ants, wasps, bees, and dragonflies.

Vertebrate life of the Jurassic Period was extremely diverse. Primitive sharks and other early forms of modern fish filled the seas. Birds and reptiles emerged, having evolved from the Archosaur. The Archosaur, which means “ruling reptile,” lived in the Triassic Era and also gave rise to the dinosaur. A special type of Archosaur called Erythrosuchus, was the first reptile to walk with an erect gait, which led to the evolutionary split of dinosaurs from all other reptiles, who primarily crawl. The most well-known dinosaurs are the Apatosaurus (also known as the Brontosaurus), an herbivore (plant eater), and the Tyrannosaurus, a carnivore (meat eater). Armored dinosaurs, such as the Stegosaurus appeared during the Jurassic Period as well, along with other reptiles that are still with us today, such as crocodiles, marine turtles, and lizards.

Jurassic Playground, located along the western shore of Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was formerly known as Meadow Lake West Playground. Parks constructed Meadow Lake West Playground in 1966. It became part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which was officially designated Parks property in 1967. In 1999, Council Member Morton Povman provided $825,000 for a renovation, and today Jurassic Playground features swings for tots and kids, a drinking fountain, benches, a flagpole with a yardarm, play equipment with safety surfacing, and Apatosaurus animal art. There are also images of dinosaurs, including the Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Anklyosaurus, and Dromaeosaurus, throughout the playground.

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