Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wooden bridge at Queens Wildlife Center - Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Wooden bridge at Queens Wildlife Center - Flushing Meadows Corona Park, March 25, 2010
Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson, John Wyffels

Today's ride, our first Thursday outing, began with a snub by Jennifer Miller who once again stood us up after promising she would join us. We''ll have to wait yet longer for our first female (and bearded female) NYC Unicycle Bridge Tour rider. Despite this disappointment, we were joined by John Wyffels, a Greenpoint based mono wheeler who regularly makes the trek from Greenpoint to Times Square.  This week we visited Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is the second-largest public park in the City of New York. It was created as the site of the 1939/1940 World's Fair and also hosted the 1964/1965 World's Fair.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park was formerly the site of the Corona Ash Dumps and characterized as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The park is framed by four major New York City freeway arteries; the Long Island Expressway, The Van Wyck Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Jackie Robinson Parkway. One couldn't help but question Robert Moses automobile centric legacy. As mentioned, the park was the site of the 1964 World's Fair, and there are still a number of remnants

Our first destination, naturally, was the Unisphere, a monumental 140 foot tall stainless steel globe. It is one of Queens most recognized symbols, and was built for the 1964 World's Fair by the US Steel Corporation.

Following the unisphere we ventured across the park, which was filled with soccer players and school kids.  It was encouraging to see such a multitude of irregular past times. The lake was spotted with radio controlled sailboats and the air specked with similar aircraft. The air was also filled with actual aircraft, being that LaGuardia and JFK airports lie to either end of the park

The first bridge of the ride, Perimeter Road Bridge, had beautiful marshland to the right and an expressway overpass to the left. We photographed our big wheels on both sides, which settings couldn't have been more opposite.

We were stopped by Daily News photographer Anthony DelMundo who had taken beautiful shots of us riding around the lake. Who knows. We may be on the stands tomorrow.

It is by accident that we rolled across a boardwalk that emptied into a construction and dumpster barricaded stadium area.  The boardwalk spanned a train yard, and could be argued to fill many requirements of a bridge.  Once we recognized the Citifield banner illuminating the sky above the trains, buses, highways, and car parts stores, we knew we were in Mets territory.  If only Kyle were to be here to experience the thrill, he could have kept Keith from burying a Yankees momento in the soil.  The ride circled the stadium providing a bit of entertainment for many construction workers on lunch.

We located a particular bridge on the map called the Tide Gate Bridge. When we got to the foot of the bridge, the sign said Porpoise Bridge. Upon further investigation we found that the span is also known as the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Bridge. It took forever to photograph ourselves with all the passing cars. A van full of policemen stopped and were amused.

We photographed our wheels in front of the Queens Museum of Art. Rob, who teaches art at Hunter College, stated the upside down unicycles' connection to artist Marcel Duchamp was obvious.

Having covered most of the bridges in a short amount of time, schedule allowed for a ride around the world. And so we returned to the Unisphere, delighting construction workers and school kids alike.

Our final destination was a small wooden bridge located inside the gates of the Queens Wildlife Center. We convinced the guard to not only waive the $7 admission price, but to allow us to bring our unicycles through the gate where a sign clearly stated 'No bicycle Permitted'. As the guard was taking our pictures on the small wooden bridge, who should emerge but his supervisor. We promised the guard we wouldn't blog about this episode. Sorry for breaking our promise. We sincerely hope he's still employed by the Queens Wildlife Center.

From Wikipedia:

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadow Park, Flushing Meadows Park or Flushing Meadows, is located in the New York City borough of Queens, between the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway and stretching from Flushing Bay to Union Turnpike.

The second-largest public park in the City of New York (after Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx), it was created as the site of the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair and also hosted the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. It is maintained and operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The park is at the eastern edge of the area encompassed by Queens Community Board 4.

The 1,255 acre park was created from the former dumping ground characterized as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The site, known at the time as the Corona Ash Dumps, was cleared by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, in preparation for the 1939-1940 World's Fair. Faced with having to dispose of the mountains of ashes, Moses strategically incorporated a significant portion of the refuse into the bases of the Van Wyck Expressway running along the eastern side of the park, the nearby Interboro Parkway (now Jackie Robinson Parkway), and the Long Island Expressway that divides the park into north and south halves. The Grand Central Parkway separates a western lobe from the main part of the northern half, while the east-west Jewel Avenue bisects the southern half.

Some of the buildings from the 1939 Fair were used for the first temporary headquarters of the United Nations from 1946 until it moved in 1951 to its permanent headquarters in Manhattan. The former New York City building was used for the UN General Assembly during that time. This building was later refurbished for the 1964 Fair as the New York City Pavilion, featuring the Panorama of the City of New York, an enormous scale model of the entire city. It is currently the only surviving building from the 1939 Fair, and the home of the Queens Museum of Art, which still houses, and occasionally updates, the Panorama. The Unisphere, built as the theme symbol for the 1964/1965 World's Fair, is the main sculptural feature of the park. It stands on the site occupied by the Perisphere during the earlier Fair.

The US Open tennis tournament takes place in Flushing Meadows Park at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center; its center court is Arthur Ashe Stadium and its secondary stadium court is Louis Armstrong Stadium. Citi Field, the current home of the New York Mets, sits at the north end of the park. Shea Stadium, the Mets' previous home, once stood adjacent to Citi Field.

Rental boats are available for rowing and paddleboating on the park's Meadow Lake, which feeds northward into the Flushing River and thence into Flushing Bay. Meadow Lake is the site of the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York, and teams from New York practice in Meadow Lake during the summer months. The American Small Craft Association(TASCA) also houses a fleet of over a dozen 14.5' sloop-rigged sailboats which are used for teaching, racing and recreation by the club's members. Bicycling paths extend around Meadow Lake and connect to the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway. Paths around Willow Lake, the smaller and higher of the two lakes, in a natural wetlands area in the little-used far southern section of the park, are currently closed to the public. The many recreational playing fields and playgrounds in the park are used for activities that reflect the vast ethnic mix of Queens; soccer and cricket are especially popular.

The park is also the home of Queens Theatre in the Park, the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, and "Terrace on the Park" (a banquet and catering facility, the Fair's former helipad).

The New York State Pavilion, constructed as the state's exhibit hall for the 1964/1965 World's Fair, is also a feature of the park. However, no new use for the building was found after the Fair, and the structure sits derelict and decaying. The other buildings left for a while after the Fair's conclusion to see if a new use for them could be found, such as the United States Pavilion, have subsequently been demolished. One such parcel became the site of the Playground for All Children, one of the first playgrounds designed to include handicapped-accessible activities. The design competition was won by architect Hisham N. Ashkouri and the facility was completed in 1981. It was refurbished and reopened in 1997.

On June 24, 2005, the park hosted the Reverend Billy Graham on what he stated was his last tour in North America.
A $66.3 million aquatic center, encompassing an Olympic-sized indoor pool and an NHL regulation-sized skating rink, opened in 2008. The facility, utilized by schools, leagues and community members of all ages, is the largest recreation complex in any New York City park, at 110,000 square feet. The complex incorporates features for the physically disabled.

1 comment:

  1. Interested in doing a story on your effort for the NY Post. Email me at Best, Jeremy