Last weekend this little piggy went on a subway tour organized by the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. The tour was called “Fairs to Remember” and it was all about the two World’s Fairs that were held in Flushing, Queens, in 1939 and 1964-65 and – more important to most of the participants of the tour – the subway line that took people there.
So we took the train into Penn Station as usual and then walked the few blocks to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street, where the group was supposed to meet. After some confusion about the exact meeting point – note to the organizers: the mezzanine level of the Bus Terminal is not the same as the mezzanine level of the subway down below!!! – we finally found the group. Since we were not the only ones who had been running around the place for half an hour and were late as a consequence (although we had been at the Terminal 15 minutes early), the tour started about 40 minutes later than planned.
The organizational problems didn’t stop there – after our guide Joe started talking about the #7 line he realized that it was quite noisy in the subway station (what a surprise!) and that he should have brought the microphone. So we proceeded to the actual track level and – guess what – with trains arriving and leaving every couple of minutes it was even noisier there (go figure …). So I’m afraid a lot of Joe’s knowledge about the subway and the World’s Fairs got lost in the noise down there.
Oh, by the way, our group consisted mainly of male ‘train spotters’, many of them ‘middle-aged’ (whatever that means) and – according to Andrea – not exactly ‘model material’ …, very few women and one little pig. I’m pretty sure that (except for the pig) the statistics are very similar for most of the tours the Transit Museum offers … but, hey, I’m a travelpig, not a statistician or a sociologist!
Anyhow, so we took the #7 train and after several stops at points of interest – one was actually pretty quiet, believe it or not – we finally arrived in Flushing about 2 hours later. The subway station there is called Willets Point/Shea Stadium and from there you can reach Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the location of the 2 World’s Fairs, via a huge wooden pedestrian ramp. The tour – which was $20 ($15 for museum members) and free for this little pig - ended right there on the ramp above the Long Island Railroad Station and the subway maintenance yard after another talk by subway historian Joe. We found it a bit strange that it didn’t include a walk through part of the park and even stranger that most people didn’t bother to check it out on their own but headed straight back to the subway.
That didn’t keep our little group from going to the park, of course, and while we weren’t planning to spend hours there – which would have been no problem, considering the size of the park (1 ˝ times the size of Central Park) – we definitely wanted to see the Unisphere, one of the remnants of the 1964/65 World Fair. The Unisphere is a giant steel globe and was built as a symbol for world peace. It is 140 feet high and 120 in diameter and weighs 900,000 pounds! Don’t know what all this is in meters and kilograms since I got the numbers from an American website, sorry! But let me tell you, the thing is huge and pretty impressive!
The park is also home to the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Zoo, the Queens Botanical Gardens and is probably best known for hosting the US Tennis Open. But they are held in September and we were there in June, so no tennis here!
That was it for last Sunday, I won’t bore you with the ride home, etc., but I will tell you that my next adventure is coming soon …