An iconic structure from the 1964 World's Fair will be open to the public next month for a rare look inside thanks to a grassroots volunteer group that has been working hard to make it happen. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
With some rollers, paint, brushes and scrapers a small group of volunteers has given new life to the New York State Pavilion.
After decades of neglect, they're getting it ready for a rare public viewing next month to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair. It's been a five-year paint job.
"We have been working very hard and gaining the trust of the Parks Department and elected officials over the years. They are allowing us to open the gates and allow people to come in and take a little peek," said Mitch Silverstein of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project.
There will be limited access to view and take pictures of the Tent of Tomorrow and the famous towers. People can also speak with the volunteers known as the New York State Pavilion Paint Project crew.
"I got involved in this project with these guys in 2011. I just happened to be walking by and decided, you know what: I see these towers everyday. They were in 'Men in Black', They were in movies that I know. Why not take the effort," said Thomas Bleuzen of the New York State Pavilion Paint Project.
Mitch Silverstein and John Piro were a two-man crew before others joined in. Both attended the fair.
"I just loved this pavilion and as the years went on I saw this decay and it just like tore my heart," Piro said.
So they spent $3,500, some of which was donated, and a tremendous amount of time to paint it. The others come from as far as Pennsylvania. Only two volunteers are from Queens.
"Regardless of what my wife says, I'm coming down here and I'm painting when they need me," said Ed Gossett, a New York State Pavilion Paint Project volunteer.
But painting is not enough to restore the pavilion. That could cost up to $72 million, according to the Parks Department. The crew is hoping that by highlighting the structure, support for restoring it will continue to grow. There has long been support from Parks and now the Queens Borough President.
"This is history. It's drawing the interest for the masses," Piro said.
April 22 will mark the 50th anniversary of the day the fair started. The east gate will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and visitors have to sign a waiver and wear hard hats.