Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Peace Through Understanding

I'm a huge fan of the show King of Queens, and if you've ever seen the show, you might remember seeing the main characters - Doug and Carrie - rolling around in the grass in front of this massive globe during the opening credits.

I've seen it hundreds of times on TV and I've been driving by it for years - you can see it clearly from the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) and the Long Island Expressway (I-495), which intersect at the edge of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park located in Queens, New York - and last week while waiting for a load that was picking up nearby, we were able to see it up close, in person.

The Unisphere is the world's largest global structure and was built for the 1964 World's Fair.  It was designed by landscape architect, Gilmore D. Clarke, and fabricated by U.S. Steel.  It's 140 feet high, 120 feet in diameter, weighs 700,000 pounds, and contains more than 500 major structural pieces of stainless steel.

From the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission document:  "It is covered with representations of the 
continents, showing the major mountain ranges in relief, and is encircled by three giant rings denoting the first man-made satellites, which had been launched in the late 1950s. The globe tilts from the vertical at an angle of 23-1/2 degrees, the normal tilt of the earth. The circles which make up the armillary sphere represent the lines of latitude and longitude. The capital cities of the world are marked by lenses which, during the fair, were backed by flashing lights."  

Here's an interesting tidbit - the Kahnawake (Mohawk) Indians, from the Canadian/New York border area along the St. Lawrence River, have a history of being involved in large engineering projects.  During the construction of the Saint Lawrence Bridge in 1886-1887, the Kahnawake men worked hundreds of feet above the water and ground which started the legend that Native American men had no fear of heights.  From there, the Kahnawake men took part in the construction of many bridges, structures, and major skyscrapers in New York City - the Empire State Building and the Unisphere among them - and because of that, one of the flashing lights mentioned above was also placed to mark the Kahnawake Indian Reservation to honor the labor of the Mohawk iron workers who constructed the globe.

The Unisphere is surrounded by a reflecting pool that contain fountains which spray water twenty feet in the air.  The effect the fountains create obscure the base the sphere is sitting on, giving it the appearance that it's floating in the air.  Unfortunately, since it's October, the reflecting pool was empty and the fountains were not operating.  We'll have to go back again to see that and also to visit the adjacent Queens Museum if for nothing else than to see the Panorama of the CIty of New York.

There's so so so much to do and see in the boroughs of New York, and I'm glad I was finally able to see this iconic structure.  Here's to Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Goodwill Hunting

2012: Approaching Talladega
2011: Music Sets The Stage
2010: Tacky Prevails
2009: Not As Hot As It Looks
2008: Burst
2007: Stockholm Syndrome
2006: Playing In A Dream Near You
2005: The Greatest Story Ever Told

1 comment:

Gil said...

Had a lot of fun at the 'Fair'! Was young, healthy and foolish. When I drive by that area, I feel young again. Too bad the German girls carrying five or six mugs of beer in each hand are now gone. Speaking of Doug & Carrie, have you been to the "King of Lemon Ices"?