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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

West Meadow Playground

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

This playground draws its name from nearby Meadow Lake, the largest lake in New York City. Directly across from this site is Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the second largest park in the city and home to the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs.

Meadow Lake and adjacent Willow Lake are a wetland created by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) for the 1939-40 World’s Fair. The area was originally called Fountain Lake and was renamed Liberty Lake in 1940, after the United States became involved in World War II. During the 1939-40 World’s Fair, the lake was home to a huge water amphitheater and Billy Rose’s Aquacade. While nearby Willow Lake is a nature reserve designed to preserve and showcase the wildlife and flora of a fresh-water lake, Meadow Lake is used largely for recreational purposes. The water amphitheater, boathouse, and concession building with waterside promenade all contribute to the lake’s appeal.

The Grand Central Parkway, which separates this park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, was built between 1931-36 as a limited-access thoroughfare connecting Queens Boulevard with Nassau County. The Grand Central Parkway’s initial budget was $6 million, but when it was completed, the costs had doubled. Governor Herbert H. Lehman (1878-1963) lauded the parkway as the “end of isolation for Long Island.” It eventually became much more than that, and provided access to the World’s Fair of 1939-40. By the 1950s, suburban development of Long Island and the upcoming 1964-65 World’s Fair prompted officials to adopt an expansion and renovation project for the parkway. The reconstruction project incorporated several new safety regulations, including improved median separations, shoulders, and ramps for acceleration and deceleration. New light-posts were installed, and several bridges were raised to enabled buses to travel on the parkway.

The City purchased this property, located at the base of a pedestrian footbridge that passes over the Grand Central Parkway Extension between 64th Avenue and 64th Road, in October 1938 as part of Flushing Meadows Park. It was eventually reassigned to conform to convergent districts, and was deemed a wholly separate park in February 1980. Through its history, the park was known simply as “Pedestrian Bridge and Meadow West Playground,” but Parks Commissioner Stern renamed the area West Meadow Playground in May 1997. The park contains several wooden benches around the perimeter, which is marked by a chain-link fence and several trees.

Directions to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Flushing Meadows Corona Park Weather

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