This 1,255-acre park has historical, recreational and environmental significance. The former dumping ground labelled a "valley of ashes" by F. Scott Fitzgerald in "The Great Gatsby" has become Queens' largest park, and one of New York City's flagship parks.
The site which is now Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is historically important not just to New York, but to the entire country. In the 1930s, in the period's largest reclamation project in the United States, Robert Moses converted the swampy area into a 1,200-acre fairground for the 1939 World's Fair.
The fairground-turned-park hosted its second World's Fair in 1964. The structures that remained from the two fairs became the foundation for the growing park, and the Unisphere--left from the 1964 Fair and recently designated as a city landmark--has become the park's well-known symbol.
For the five-year span between 1946 and 1950, the first United Nations assembled within the park. Two professional sports facilities located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are Shea Stadium, home to the New York Mets, and the USTA National Tennis Center, available for public play and tournaments. Both are historically significant. Two World Series championships, the Mets 1969 and 1986 victories, took place at Shea Stadium. Since 1978, the United States Open tennis tournament has been held at the USTA National Tennis Center.
The current shape of the park is an oval stretching from Flushing Bay to Union Turnpike. Within the park, there are many places for relaxation and recreation. Among the 124 acres of natural areas are Flushing Creek and Bay, Willow Lake and expanses of meadow and marshland. Meadow Lake--the 84-acre manmade, freshwater lake--is New York City's largest lake.
Cultural institutions in the park
are plentiful, appealing to a wide variety of interests.
Today, the New York Hall of Science, a relic from
the 1964 World's Fair, houses a hands-on science and
technology museum. Fine arts exhibitions, performances
and films are presented at the Queens Museum of Art.
The visual arts center also displays the world's largest
architectural model of an urban area. Those who are
theatrically inclined can attend a variety of professional
and local performances at the World's Fair Theaterama
in the Queens Theater in the Park. Animal lovers can
enjoy the exhibits of North American animals in natural
settings at the Queens Wildlife Center. The adjacent
Children's Farm features domestic animals. The 39-acre
Queens Botanical Garden is filled with garden displays
and tree and flower collections.