The Artifacts of
Flushing Meadow Exhibit Guide

Joseph Tiraco


The Unisphere   of Flushing Meadow is perhaps the most popular American sculpture of all time. When the fountains run, the sculpture becomes elegance in motion, an embodiment of the lofty purpose its creators intended - the glorification of man's achievements . What more can be asked of an artwork than the indelible conveyance of such a message?

Pope's Throne
             Time Capsules

The inscriptions on Flushing Meadow's two surviving inscribed stone monuments are chiseled deep, still sharp, but these are public monuments, wards of the state, unkempt utilitarian props in a busy city park;   both inhabit shady nooks just off the main path, and both exude mystical qualities uniquely their own.


The Time Capsules are buried beneath a round, squat commemoration stone just high enough to serve as a picnic table ringed by trees and matching benches, making the spot irresistible to big families on Sunday outings.  Sometimes, usually in springtime, the stone is festooned as a giant birthday cake for children's parties, an enchanted forest in miniature.

Go three times around and sit quietly, facing North.
Let subtle influences connect you to an event 5,000 years in the future.
How much can you see,  can you experience,  can you walk away unchanged?


The Popes Throne   is spiritual center of the fairgrounds, and perhaps, the borough; once appointed with a sumptuous sister site, the   Pope's Contemplation Garden ,   a gift for the visiting pontiff from the school children of New York City.  The garden remained visually stunning and sensually overpowering throughout the Sixties, fell into neglect in the Seventies, and vanished, hacked down and turned into lawn grass by the Eighties.

The carved stone seems austere without a fragrant cloak for adornment, though the faithful that flock here for private contemplation seem unmindful of the deep chill, kneel before or sit atop the throne and sometimes leave store bought flowers behind as offerings.

Ball players, romping in the phantom garden, this off-the-beaten-path public space devoid of comfort stations, occasionally abandon the playing field and wander amid the ghostly efflorescence to urinate, poor fellows see only grass and know not the full extent of their profanity.

Late September on a Sunday afternoon, two young lovers curled up in a corner of the throne bill and coo and giggle at passers by, endure the excruciating death of day, await the flaming ball's dip below the western horizon, and the stone slab's metamorphosis to alter of Venus, await the oldest ritual known to man,    the wafting aroma of jasmine and roses mingling like restless spirits with the night air.



The Plaza outside the train station contains a delightful dalliance, an array of sidewalk mosaics which should be listed in all the city’s tour guides as must see, but they are not and remain somewhat obscure.

Venus by Salvador Dali   is froth with his sardonic wit and playful spirit. The love goddess is seen as a seductive mermaid (a sop to Botticelli?) and Dali, not totally out of character, could have encoded his model’s telephone number in the tile arrangement, sort of bathroom graffiti Esperanto.


Robert Moses by Andy Warhol .   New York City would be a very different place had the Master Builder decided to become a tennis bum. After his brutal defeat in the 1934 gubernatorial election, the thought might have crossed his mind. Anyway, it was certainly a stroke of genius to mark his masterpiece ( 1964 New York World’s Fair) with this work of genius. Andy seems to have captured the sparkle in his eyes perfectly.


Fountain Of The Planets   from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Without a doubt, the most breathtaking mosaic in the collection. The photo seen here is only a small part of a grand scheme, which is too large to capture on foot; the photographer must back away to an unacceptably large distance in order to fit the entire mosaic in the picture. This leaves two choices: The photographer could have snapped several pictures and pieced them together; but the astute web surfer clicking these pages can easily surmise why this option was rejected. The other choice is to rise to a height - say, with a cherry-picker, but that requires permission from the city. I do not like this mayor (who I call il Duce for his political arrogance) and prefer not to ask the favor. He is term limited and will soon be gone. Then we’ll see the entire mosaic.


Time Capsules from 1939 and 1964.   Yes, two more time capsules, these buried beneath mosaic covers. Your relatives of the future will get tennis elbow digging up all the 50 foot deep artifacts, unless, of course, science fiction comes true, in which case they will simply think them to the surface.



Victory   Now you know why Fountain of the Planets was not pieced together.

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