The Little City or “I can see my brownstone from here!”

Courtesy QMA

Courtesy QMA

Way out east, somewhere within the hinterlands of old Queens, lie the rusting remnants of a forgotten age, all windswept and cold and alone on the outskirts of  New York City. Left to time and their own puerile devices, the relics of the great Worlds Fair are still out there for all to see, baring their concrete souls to God and everyone and even a few chosen Latinos picnicking and playing soccer.  Hungover and bored and anxious to check off our NYC must sees list before once again striking out for the great beyond, a rainy Sunday afternoon was spent trekking out to Flushing Meadows Corona Park all the way from South Brooklyn, riding the rails and ending up on old lucky number 7. Get off at Mets-Willets Point and it’s a long walk to the Queens Museum of Art, you can’t miss it because it’s right next to the giant steel globe, iconic New York folks and one wonders when it will be torn down.


Unisphere Stats:

  • Iconic remnant of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair
  • Built by US Steel as a symbol of world peace
  • Dedicated to “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”
  • Weighs 800 thousand pounds
  • 140 feet high and 120 feet in diameter
  • the foundation of the Unisphere is made of pressure treated wood and reaches 100 feet to the bedrock below
  • has feelings

That’s all well and good and anyone who’s anyone and anyone who knows Craig Mack knows the Unishpere brotha, but what you don’t know you’re about to know. Remnants of the old Worlds Fair abound in the park, the big spaceship things from Men in Black and of course the Unisphere, but tucked away within the Queens Museum of Art is one of old New York’s best kept secrets: a giant scale model of the entire city of New York. The Panorama of the City of New York was first constructed way back when for the World’s Fair and is one of the sparkling gems of New York’s great museum network. Entonces, fuck MoMA and the Guggenheim and their exorbitant fees, the Queens Museum has this thing and it’s pay-what-you-wish. Of course the rest of the museum is alright; I seem to remember some Georgia O’keefe somethings or others and they had a really good installation with hundreds of creepy papier mâché puppets…also there were some old wastrels dispensing delicious homemade bread samples with an olive oil and garlic paste that were a delicious delight but the only real reason to come out here is for the Panorama. It’s Americana in the Big Apple baby and it earns the Silverboy stamp of approval. Pictures cannot do it justice and the Panorama is best seen in person…


There are even little planes that run on little guy-wires taking off and landing at Fiorello LaGuardia airport.



Like I said, truly a gem that should be seen to be appreciated. The Panorama was totally overhauled in 1992 with all existing buildings and public works soldered in. Various updates throughout the years have brought the Panorama more or less up to date. For the curious, note that the twin towers remain, and a body can just about make them out in the pic above. Rumor has it they will be imploded and then replaced with the new Freedom tower when it is finally finished.

“…the Panorama had to be accurate, with the initial contract demanding less than one percent margin of error between reality and the “world’s largest scale model.” Comprising an area of 9,335 square feet and built to a scale of 1:1200 where one inch equals 100 feet, the Panorama is a metropolis in miniature. Each of the city’s 895,000 buildings constructed prior to 1992 and every street, park and some 100 bridges are represented and assembled onto 273 individual sections comprising the 320 square miles of New York City. In this miraculously scaled cityscape, the borough of Manhattan measures a seemingly vast 70 x 15 feet and the Empire State Building is a towering 15 inches tall while the Statue of Liberty is only 1-7/8 inches in height. Long Island and New Jersey peek onto the model as black shadowy masses to the east and west.” – QMA Website

And there you have it, Long Island and New Jersey perfectly represented as the black shadowy masses that they are. Note that buildings and apartments are up for purchase, with all proceeds going towards their care and maintenance. Units can be purchased here: !. Remember that it is better to own than to rent and that squatter’s rights do not apply. See you at the Panorama bitches, stompin’ around like Godzillo.


IMages courtesy QMA

IMages courtesy QMA


One response to “The Little City or “I can see my brownstone from here!”

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