Visualizing the Past, Present, and Future of New York City’s World’s Fair site

This site highlights research from Visualizing the Past, Present, and Future of New York City’s 1964-5 World’s Fair site using 3D GIS and Procedural Modeling, research funded through the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. Our team explored and documented 3D and 4D GIS techniques. We have been seeking best practices for generating useful 3D visualizations of past, present, and future landscapes for historic preservation and urban design.

This research was initiated to understand the extent to which 3D modeling can support preservation professionals and the general public in understanding landscape change and analyzing design alternatives. The pilot area was Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, the site of two world’s fairs — the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. (Only one of the fairs was officially sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions!) This research is related to another research project: Sustainable Adaptation of Large Modern Footprints. You can read a recent article in the APT Bulletin: the Journal of the Association for Preservation Technology that presents highlights of this research project. A Final grant report is also available for download.

The video below demonstrates a new approach we tested with computer generated architecture (CGA) scripting. This approach allowed us to store more detailed information about buildings on the site. Each building footprint has an associated construction and demolition date for the associated building. If a 3D model is available, it is generated. If there isn’t a detailed 3D model, the footprint is extruded. A user can select a display time and only those buildings extant during that year are generated or extruded.

Compare the video above, which shows a model in the desktop version of CityEngine, with an exported web scene below. The web scene shows existing conditions in the historic core of Flushing Meadows Corona Park compared to the massing of pavilions at the time of the 1964 world’s fair.

Screen capture of a web scene showing a comparison of existing conditions (left) with the historical fair site (right). Link to interactive web scene.

Below is an even more detailed webscene showing existing conditions. The viewer can take a long time to load in and it does not work in some browsers. The best browser to use appears to be the latest version of Chrome.

This is a detailed view of landscape features from the 1964 world’s fair.

Read more about the project:


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