06.21.20: Unisphere and fountains

The unisphere stands behind a landscaped area on the site of the 1963-64 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.

The Unisphere stands behind a landscaped area on the site of the 1964 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.

Visiting a familiar site after a day of tennis

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Aug. 27, 2014, 7:02 p.m.
  • Location: 40°44'49" N 73°50'43" W  (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D 
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L (21mm)
  • Aperture: f/18
  • Shutter: 1/80th second
  • ISO: 200

My wife and I have attended the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York several times over the years. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

One of our favorite things to do after leaving the day session of the tournament is to depart through the tennis center’s south gate and walk through the park, which still maintains much of the layout from the 1939 World’s Fair. There are fountains, lakes and numerous green spaces that are now used for soccer, baseball or picnics.

But the most visible, and likely best known, feature of the park is the Unisphere. It can be seen easily from the tennis center (it often shows up on network telecasts of the tennis tournament) and is only about a five minute walk from the gate.

The Unisphere was commissioned for the 1964 World’s Fair as the centerpiece — and eventually the iconic image — of the fair. The 140-foot high, 350-ton structure represents the earth, with continents and major mountain ranges in relief and capital cities of the world marked by lights. The globe is encircled by three orbital rings, thought to represent the tracks of Russian Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), John Glenn (the first American to orbit the earth) and Telstar (the first active communications satellite). 

I grabbed this shot just minutes after leaving the U.S. Open in 2014. It was taken about a half hour before sunset, which means the scene was a bit darker when viewed by the eye than it is when captured by the camera. Note that lights along the walkways are illuminated.

The low-angled, late-day sun provided directional light, illuminating the right (or west) side of the Unisphere and basking Australia and the back of North and South America inside the Unisphere with warm yellow light.

I liked how the landscaping in the foreground filled the lower portion of the image with color and how the fountains provided a visual transition from the busy foreground to the Unisphere isolated against the cloudless sky.

In the background to the right is the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair, with the pavilion’s two tallest observation towers visible above the trees. The tallest tower is 226 feet high. Movie fans will remember that the towers were flying saucers in disguise in “Men in Black.”

Visiting the Unisphere and the World’s Fair site was fun. Attending the U.S. Open was fun. Of course, I could describe any visit to New York City as fun. There’s always so much to do and so much to see.

I grabbed this shot just minutes after leaving the U.S. Open in 2014. It was taken about a half hour before sunset, which means the scene was a bit darker when viewed by the eye than it is when captured by the camera. Note that lights along the walkways are illuminated.