An even cooler New York Model

I was initially surprised that this didn’t appear in the New York Physical Model presentation. This is one of my favorite things to look at; the physical model of New York City created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair under the direction of Robert Moses.

Moses was the infamous head of the NYC Parks Dept. for twenty years as well as the state governor in the 1930’s. Profiled by Princeton’s Robert A. Caro in the Pulitzer-Prize winning biography, The Power Broker: Robert Moses & the Fall of New York (1974), the politician was responsible for the overall exhibition as well as the introduction of the first display of Walt Disney’s animatronic technology. Among his huge requests was this incredible model.

As can be seen from the photographs above, the model is even larger than the Shanghai physical model. The panorama is 9,335-square-foot (867.2 m2), and includes over 895,000 individual structures meticulously detailed with windows and extrusions. As the photos above also suggest, it was continually updated from 1970 until 1992 (during which time an estimated 60,000 buildings were replaced). The original exhibit featured moving platforms which brought visitors over the model in an attempt to simulate helicopter rides through Manhattan. Though the model was built in under a year, it represents an estimated 300,000+ man hours worth of work. You do the math!!

The model is now preserved in the Queens Museum of Art. According to the New York Times in a 2009 article entitled You, too, Can Own a Piece of the (mini) City: “In March 2009 the museum announced the intention to update the panorama on an ongoing basis. To raise funds and draw public attention the museum will allow individuals to and developers to have accurate models made of buildings newer than the 1992 update created and added in exchange for a donation. Accurate models of smaller apartment buildings and private homes, now represented by generic models, can also be added. The twin towers of the World Trade Center will be replaced when the new buildings are created, the museum has chosen to allow them to remain until construction is complete rather than representing an empty hole. The first new buildings to be added was the new Citi Field stadium of the New York Mets. The model of the old Shea Stadium will continue to be displayed elsewhere in the museum.”


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