Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From Eyeful to Eyesore: Book Traces Queens' New York State Pavilion's Decline by Nicholas Hirshon - NY Daily News

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The New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

One of Queens's most enduring symbols - the New York State Pavilion - has crumbled its way onto the bookshelf.
A California engineer has compiled a photographic history that he hopes will "raise the level of shame" by documenting the pavilion's decades-long transformation from attraction to eyesore.
Christian Kellberg, 58, said his book proves that the city Parks Department can save the decaying landmark, which was built in 1964 - with a little vision.
"Somebody ought to put their creative thinking cap on," said Kellberg, an aerospace engineer who grew up in Flushing. "It's not really a question of laying blame. It's how we move forward."
Armed with dozens of colorful shots, Kellberg self-published the book, "The New York State Pavilion: An Enduring Landmark," on www.blurb.com, where it's now available for $33.
The author, who is searching for a publisher, said he wants to "introduce the right amount of shame to spur somebody into action." But, he added, "You don't want to advertise that it's a living wreck and should be torn down."
The Parks Department recently commissioned its second study in two years on the structural stability of the pavilion, which is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Among Kellberg's supporters is John Piro, 61, of Westbury, L.I., a pavilion fan who earned city approval last year to repaint the red-and-white stripes and yellow band on the building's exterior.
Piro said documenting the pavilion's past in a book makes the case for restoration.
"It's an icon now, just like the Unisphere," Piro said, adding that he wants to paint more come spring.
Kellberg also included pictures he took at the pavilion during the 1977 filming of "The Wiz," a musical which starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
He said he snapped the images - which show an "Oz" sign and blue spherical balls lining the top of the Tent of Tomorrow rotunda walls - after sneaking into an off-limits pavilion tower.
"Nobody kicked me out, so I walked in as I usually do, and beg forgiveness later if I get caught," he said with a laugh.
Kellberg also secured sketches and photos of architectural models from George Capsis, 82, of the West Village, whose design firm created exhibits for the pavilion.
"A lot of this stuff is forgotten," Capsis said. "It's valuable, important that we do have books that preserve something so unique as a world's fair."