12 February 2009

This Is New York, 1992!

I went to the Queens Museum for the first time this week. As any history buff knows, the main reason to visit this out-of-the-way place is the gigantic, awe-inspiring, absolutely-freaking-amazing New York Panorama. This model of all models depicts every building and every block in all five boroughs of the Great Big Beautiful City.

I expected something pretty great. But it exceeded all expectations. By rights, this should be one of the top tourist attractions in the city. A ramp surrounds the Panorama, which is 9,335 square feet and was built for the 1964 World’s Fair, by order of Robert Moses, by a team of 100 people working for the architectural model makers Raymond Lester Associates. It took three years. Imagine carving, painting and gluing little buildings for three years.

Since then, its been updated periodically. But the last time was 1992, just as Giuliani and Bloomberg were about to get their grubby mitts on the town and go on a building spree.

Certain parts of the city still look pretty accurate. But others are noticeably dated. Look at Columbus Circle, for God's Sake. No Time Warner complex. No ugly Trump thingy. The Coliseum is still there!

And, of course, the city still had the World Trade Center back then.

The museum worker I talked to said the money might be in place to bring the thing up to date in 2019 or so. That would be nice. Then again, the current model spares us almost everything ever built by Robert Scarano, Karl Fischer and the Toll Brothers.

1 comment:

dj radon said...

i hope it never gets updated. it's worth more as-is than it would cost to have someone make a new one. now we've got google, why mess with what's probably the only way to physically visualize (a small, composite slice) of the city's past!