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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Triassic Playground

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

Triassic Playground, like Jurassic 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 included nine fiberglass dinosaurs sculpted by Louis Paul Jonas. Jonas, who has work displayed in the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian, carved large figures of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Corythosaurus, Anklyosaurus, Ornitholestes, Apatosaurus (popularly known as Brontosaurus,) Trachadon, and Struthiomimus. This playground, located along the shore of Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, portrays the Triassic Period of the Mesozoic Era.

We are living in the Phanerozoic Eon, which has lasted about 540 million years. This age has been the time of visible life in which plants capable of photosynthesis first evolved. They produce oxygen, which enabled animal life to emerge. The Phanerozoic Eon is divided into three major eras based on the predominant life forms: Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic. The second of these, sometimes called the Age of Reptiles, began approximately 245 million years ago and ended some 64.4 million years ago.

During the Mesozoic Era, the continents separated and began to take on their current configuration. The era itself is broken down into three major periods: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. The Triassic Period, which in turn is subdivided into the Early, Middle, and Late Epochs, ushered in the Mesozoic Era 245 million years ago and lasted 37 million years. German paleontologist Friedrich August von Alberti first named the period Trias (Greek for “three parts” and meant to describe the three rock layers, or strata, that characterize this era) in 1834, and it later became known as Triassic.

During the Triassic period, all the world’s continents were still united as the “super continent” Pangaea. Faultlines emerged where the plates of the earth’s crust began to separate, such as the one that runs along the Appalachian Mountain Range in Eastern North America. In addition, mountain formations (resulting from a process called orogeny) arose near the Pacific coasts of America, China, and Japan. Life forms throughout the world were relatively more homogenous during the Triassic Period than they are today, in large part because the range of global temperatures was smaller. On land, warm and dry conditions prevailed, allowing for the emergence of the earliest mammals by the end of the period. During this period, reptiles began to take on the variety for which they would later become known.

Triassic Playground was formerly known as Meadow Lake East Playground for its location along the eastern edge of the adjacent lake. Parks first constructed Meadow Lake East Playground in 1966 and renovated it in conjunction with the conversion of the Meadow Lake West Playground to Jurassic Playground. Council Member Morton Povman provided $774,000 for a renovation in 2000. Triassic Playground features a wide variety of dinosaur-themed facilities. One can follow the path of dinosaur footprints from the Plateosaurus shapes on the basketball courts to the Dimetrodon, Kannemeyeria, Herrasaurus and Proganochelys/Turtle animal art. The information board next to the comfort station gives facts about flora and fauna from the Triassic Period, as well as a geologic time scale. The playground also has swings, play equipment with safety surfacing, a flagpole with a yardarm, benches, a drinking fountain, and spray showers in the shape of palm trees.

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