Tuesday, 8 September 2009

World Fair follies

In less than a month I've gone from knowing absolutely nothing of World Fair architecture (I had to look up what counts as a "world" fair, and even now I'm not clear - it seems to be a self-appointed title), to visiting two legacy follies.

In Brussels this weekend we went to the north of the city to see the site of the 1958 Fair.

Atomium, Brussels

And only a couple of weeks ago in New York, before dinner with blogging friend Chef E, we went to visit the site of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs - now a park in Queens.

Flushing Meadows, Queens

The sites are similar in a way: both have massive, gleaming structures left for all to see, towering above their surroundings.

Globe at Flushing Meadows, QueensAtomium, Brussels

Yet the differences are equally impressive.

In Queens, Flushing Meadows is a public park where a few locals had brought their kids to play or their dogs to exercise, a long way from the tourist hotspots in Manhattan. The relics of the Fair were virtually abandoned apart from a few kids playing at the base of the Unisphere; the fountains which used to surround the area now switched off.

Globe at Flushing Meadows, Queens

Globe at Flushing Meadows, Queens

By contrast, Brussels' folly has been transformed into a visitor attraction charging €9 for entry (called Atomium), and the surrounding area has been developld into a set of theme parks (Brupark, MiniEurope, Oceade...) which appeared to be thriving despite its distance from the city centre.

Atomium, Brussels

Atomium, Brussels


Anonymous said...

That is so interesting. I wonder what's become of other world's fair sites.

Catherine said...

That was something new I learnt today - Atomium was a world's fair site! I had heard of it but never been.
I visited El Poble Espanyol in Barcelona's Montjuic area which I believe was built for the 1928 World Fair in Barcelona and was left as a tourist attraction when the fair was over though it was meant to be demolished. So that's all I know about world fairs and I hope I'm right about the Barcelona site - I did blog on it on my post on Barcelona so Ishould have my facts right!
Nice photos of the globe in NY also.

Chef E said...

Sorry, I have been MIA on the blog scene this past month, but your pics are wonderful! Did not realize it was so shiny up close. I was more worried about it rolling towards us :O)

Got some catching up here...

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