Futuristic elevators from a World’s Fair landmark now lie shattered in a weed-strewn pile in Queens – two years after the city promised to protect the historic lifts, the Daily News has learned.
The SkyStreak pods from the New York State Pavilion are rotting in a jumble of twisted parts – a far cry from the 1964-1965 expo, when they soared to the highest point of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
“It looks like a trash can,” said Richard Post, who leads World’s Fair tours of the park. “They’re ravaged. They’re garbage.”
After the fair ended in 1965, the steel-and-glass capsules were left at the mercy of decay and vandals – as one rusted away in a pit beneath the pavilion, and the other was stuck mid-rise at 150 feet.
The city Parks Department stripped the pods off their cables in July 2008, fearing parts might blow off in strong winds. At the time, both were largely intact.
The agency’s historic preservation director, John Krawchuk, said then that the city was retaining the elevators so they “could easily be replicated” in the future.
He said the SkyStreaks would be crucial if the city ever decided to restore the decaying pavilion.
“The goal is to remove it whole, not to damage it in any way,” Krawchuk told The News at the time, calling the elevators “very important features to the original design” of the site.
But park advocate Greg Godfrey noticed on Sunday that the chain-link gate around the fallen elevators was open – and then saw the damage to the lifts.
He immediately alerted a Parks enforcement patrol officer. When The News checked the site on Monday, the gate remained unlocked – with only a loosely tied string to keep it closed.
“It looks like all the structural integrity was destroyed,” said Godfrey, president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park World’s Fair Association.
The News confirmed the capsules’ poor state. But Parks Department spokeswoman Trish Bertuccio insisted Tuesday that “no changes have been made to the condition” of the elevators.
Historians contended the city’s neglect of the SkyStreaks matched a decades-long pattern at the pavilion.
“It’s really sad and makes me very angry, but how can you be surprised given their attitude toward that building?” asked Bill Young, who has co-written two World’s Fair books.
“They have consistently failed to come through,” he said.