Queens officials, groups and residents marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Tuesday with festivities that included a rare tour of the New York State Pavilion. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
A line stretched over the Grand Central Parkway after wrapping around the New York State Pavilion.
"I got here at eight in the morning, there was like 10 people on line, and then, I went home to change, took a little shower, came back, it's down by the Queens Zoo," said one attendee.
However, it was worth the hours-long wait for the thousands of people who wanted to take a picture inside the iconic structure.
"Going in here, it made my whole day," said one attendee.
Visiting the Pavilion brought back memories for those who were here 50 years ago when the World's Fair opened.
"I actually have my employee card from 1964 because I worked on the film my dad did for the theatrerama," said one attendee. "It was a 360-degree film in this building."
Then, there are those who never went to the fair but have memories nonetheless.
'My father had taken me here, right at that gate actually, and he had always said 'I was here,'" said one attendee.
The Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York State Pavilion Paint Crew staged the event. The crew spent five years painting the deteriorating structure to try to drum up support to save it.
"The colors are show-stopper red, bright white and World's Fair yellow," said John Piro, a member of the New York State Pavilion Paint Crew. "You can't get any better than that."
On Tuesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the pavilion as a national treasure.
"One of only 44 so far in the country, which is the designation the National Trust gives to really important things in the United States that must be saved," said Paul Goldberger of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
"Years ago, we received state designation. Now, we have national designation," said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
Local leaders believe the distinction will help to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to save the structure.
"We're all excited about it," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. "We know how important it is for the future of this borough."
The pavilion will be open to the public again on May 18 as part of a larger celebration of the 1939 and '64 World's Fairs. There will be food, amusement rides and fireworks.