Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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

What was here before?

This area was once inhabited by the Matinecocks before the arrival of Dutch settlers in 1640. After the Civil War, the surrounding area became a popular waterfront resort and wealthy New Yorkers built elegant houses nearby. During 19th century industrialization at the turn of the century, the wetlands and creek flowing from Flushing Bay became an ash dump, described in 1925 as a “valley of ashes” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.

How did this site become a park?

In the 1930s, engineer Joseph F. Shagden approached a group of businessmen to organize the 1939-40 World’s Fair. NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888–1981) saw potential to rehabilitate the land and create Flushing Meadows Park after the fair ended. The fair, with its theme “The World of Tomorrow,” was a critical if not financial success; featuring the latest technological innovations and visions of the future. The fair was designed with civic improvement in mind. The site was laid out with Beaux Arts radiating pathways inspired by the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, natural areas, and recreational fields. In the year following the fair, 10,000 trees were planted at the site. Several features from the 1939-40 World’s Fair era survive, including Meadow Lake and its boathouse, nearby Willow Lake, and the New York City Building (now the Queens Museum and formerly the United Nations’ headquarters from 1946 to 1950).

Moses tried again to realize the grand vision for Flushing Meadows when the site hosted the 1964–65 World’s Fair—its theme, “Peace Through Understanding”. Surviving fair structures include the Unisphere, New York State Pavilion, New York Hall of Science, Terrace on the Park, and a public marina at Flushing Bay, which had been built for the 1939 World’s Fair but was expanded for the 1964 World’s Fair. The park is home to 11 major monuments, including Forms in Transit, The Rocket Thrower, and Freedom of the Human Spirit, all dating from the 1964 World’s Fair. There are also two time capsules designed to last 5,000 years buried in the park, marked with a granite monument.

In 1967, the land—renamed Flushing Meadows Corona Park, now the largest in Queens—reverted to the City and was fully landscaped. The park is home to several cultural institutions, including the Hall of Science, the Queens Wildlife Conservation Center, Queens Zoo (part of the Wildlife Conservation Society), Queens Theatre, and Queens Museum. Each year Flushing Meadows Corona Park draws over nine million people from all over the world for both spectator and recreational activities. Major League Baseball’s New York Mets play at Citi Field, which opened in 2009 and replaced Shea Stadium, original home to the Mets since 1964. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center hosts the United States Open, one of four premiere Grand Slam professional tennis tour events.

The park is additionally supported by the Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a private-public partnership. The park’s international flavor shines with annual festivals that draw from the area’s diverse neighborhoods. Today Flushing Meadows Corona Park serves as a local and regional resource to many diverse communities.

What is this park named for?

This park gets its name from two adjacent communities, Flushing and Corona. Flushing, to the east, was a Dutch settlement originally called “Vlissingen,” after a city in the Netherlands. By the mid-1600s, residents had shortened the name to “Vlishing,” which would become “Flushing” with the arrival of British settlers. To the west of the park is Corona. Originally called West Flushing, it became known as Corona in the late 1800s. This name is thought to have come from Italian immigrants who moved into residences developed by the Crown Building Company.

Directions to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Know Before You Go

Recreation CentersAl Oerter Recreation Center

As of June 14, 2021, Al Oerter Recreation Center is open on a limited basis. Our recreation centers are currently only open to patrons with an active membership as of March 2020. We are not registering new members at this time.

Recreation CentersFlushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink

Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink remains closed to the public until further notice. Some recreation centers are being used for COVID-19 testing and vaccination services, the Learning Bridges program, and critical seasonal training. Please visit our Recreation Centers page to find an alternate recreation center.


Anticipated Completion: Spring 2020

MarinasWorld's Fair Marina

Due to a major planned reconstruction project, Pier 1 at the World's Fair Marina is currently closed. Limited transient dockage is available for smaller recreational vessels - please contact the Dockmasters office at 718-478-0480 or VHF Ch71 for more information. There is no dockage available for larger vessels or commercial vessels, including passenger pick-up and drop-off. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please check back with the World's Fair Marina in the future for updates.
Anticipated Completion: Spring 2021

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