NEW YORK (AP) — You can just barely see them through the window of the No. 7 subway as it rattles into the elevated station in Corona, Queens: a gigantic steel sphere, two rocket ships, and towers that appear to be capped by flying saucers.
These unusual landmarks are among a number of attractions still standing from the 1964 World's Fair, which opened in Flushing Meadows Corona Park 50 years ago, with marvels ranging from microwave ovens to Disney's "it's a small world" ride to Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.
But visiting the area today is as much about 21st century Queens as it is a walk down memory lane. Many of Queens' contemporary cultural institutions — like the Queens Museum and the New York Hall of Science — grew out of fair attractions and incorporate original fair exhibits.
Other relics are stupendous in their own right, like the Unisphere, a 12-story steel globe so glorious to behold, you almost feel like you're seeing Earth from outer space. There's also a modern zoo, an antique carousel and outdoor sculptures.
Here's a guide to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World's Fair on a visit to Queens.
On weekends, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is packed with people from the dozens of ethnic groups that populate Queens, speaking many languages, eating food from around the world and playing soccer with a seriousness of purpose often found among those who grew up with the sport. That makes for "a wonderful unique experience," said Janice Melnick, Flushing Meadows Corona Park administrator.
And yet, as you walk out of the 111th Street train station, there's something about Corona that also brings to mind an older, simpler New York. No hipsters here; no luxury condo skyscrapers. Instead, you'll find modest brick apartment buildings and single-family homes, pizzerias and diners, barber shops and variety stores. That throwback sensibility adds a layer of nostalgia to the experience of revisiting fair sites, especially for boomers who attended the event as kids.