New York City Feelings

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline

Feb 10, 2009

Maps and Models

from New York Daily Photo by Brian Dubé

I have always loved maps and architectural models. As a child, I built a bird feeder modeled after my family's home. My crude rendering was applauded by all who saw it, as would be expected when your primary reviewers are family members. As an adult, maps have always been my number one priority before traveling to any destination and I have collected them for years. I love the color coded Michelin maps in three different scales.
So the Panorama of the City of New York, housed at the Queens Museum of Art, is particularly special for me, with a map and model all rolled into one. This scale model (1" = 100 feet) of the five boroughs of New York is one of the most remarkable and little known exhibits in the entire city. See second photo here. A passion for maps and models, however, is not necessary to fall in love with this creation. Museum visitors soon become mesmerized, picking out their home, favorite spots, landmarks or perhaps just show off their orienteering skills to companions.
The Panorama was commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair. This 9,335 square foot architectural model is the world's largest model of a city. It includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs - a total of 895,000 individual structures. During the Fair, the Panorama was one of the most popular attractions with an average of 1,400 visitors per day. The original exhibit was designed to give a simulated helicopter ride over the city - visitors traveled the periphery of the model in fake helicopter cars for a 9-minute tour while listening to a narration by the newscaster Lowell Thomas.
From the Queens Museum website:

"The Panorama was built by a team of 100 people working for the great architectural model makers Raymond Lester Associates in the three years before the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair. In planning the model, Lester Associates referred to aerial photographs, insurance maps, and a range of other City material; the Panorama had to be accurate, indeed the initial contract demanded less than one percent margin of error between reality and the model."

The museum building was originally built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair and is the only structure surviving that fair. Between 1946 to 1950, it was home to the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations (in 1950, it moved to its current home in Manhattan). The model has been part of the permanent exhibit since the Queens Museum opened in 1972.
You should see this magnificent model in person. Admission to the Queens Museum is only $5 and a subway ride away - why not take a ride and see for yourself?

Model and Museum note: The model was updated in 1992 with over 60,000 structures modified (the original Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, however, still remains). A recent new upgrade includes lighting for audiovisual presentation. For information about the museum, directions, hours, exhibits see their website here.



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