Located within Queens’ famous Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Panorama gives what Raymond Laster & Associates called a “God’s eye” view of the city. Commissioned by World’s Fair President Robert Moses, Laster and a crew of over 100 were in charge of creating the Panorama for the 1964 World Fair. In its original introduction, the model also featured a series of lights that created a night and day cycle that are no longer present in the current day Panorama, having fulfilled their term.
Over the years, the model has been adapted to display the ever-changing shape of New York City and it’s boroughs, and anyone can “adopt” a building for as little as $50. This money helps aid in the adaptation and maintenance of the model.
The Panorama featured in the Queens Museum today allows the viewer to walk around the model on a series of glass walkways, still giving one the “God-like” view the original creators intended. The walls surrounding the walkway now display exhibitions. Until July 30, the Panorama’s walls are lined with The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens, an exhibition that highlights the 25th anniversary of the Queens Pride Parade.
Panorama provides the viewer the chance to acknowledge how vast New York City’s five boroughs truly are. The immense attention to detail present in this work allows the viewer to quickly identify where they live or places they know, even from afar. The glass panels make it seem as if one is walking above the artwork, immersing the viewer in their experience of the model.
Laster & Associates’ piece is a refreshing take on the architecture and cityscape of New York City. Panorama creates a connection to the landmarks of the city that are often overlooked by its residents, due to its tourist nature.
Panorama is on permanent display in the Queens Museum, a short walk away from the 7 train at 111 St.