Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian, recommends the Panorama of the City of New York

Categories: New York City | Travel


Panorama of the City of New York
Queens Museum of Art

New York City Building in Flushing Meadows-Park
718 592-9700, www.queensmuseum.org

I am the proud landlord of a redbrick apartment building. It's three inches tall and sits on my mantelpiece.

My little piece of Gotham real estate was once part of the Panorama of the City of New York, a scale model of the five boroughs that's one of the few holdovers from the 1964 World's Fair. As a jaded native I'm not easily impressed by New York attractions, but the Panorama leaves me speechless every time I see it. Containing some 835,000 teensy-weensy buildings, it fills a floor space the size of two N.B.A. basketball courts. Every dwelling and large structure in the city is represented. The Statue of Liberty could fit in a coffee mug. The deck of the Brooklyn Bridge looks like a yardstick. Every few minutes the room dims to mimic nightfall and the tiny windows glow just like the real thing.

For years the Panorama was allowed to get dusty and out-of-date, but in the mid-1990's it underwent a sort of urban renewal. The whole thing was given a thorough vacuuming. Then, long-gone structures were unceremoniously plucked out with pliers and newly built ones were glued in their place. During a visit to the makeover site I was given permission to keep a few of the little buildings

I found in a bucket filled with the castoffs from the miniature metropolis. Alas, like so many New York historic preservation efforts, I was only able to rescue a tiny percentage of the many structures that ultimately wound up in a trash heap.

Michael Miscione
Manhattan Borough Historian

POSTED BY Robert Kahn on April 13th 2010