Ever since I was a child, the Panorama of New York City has been one of my favorite spots of New York. This accurate scaled-down miniature version of New York City housed in the Queens Museum of Art is one of my favorite secret spots to bring visitors to. Keep reading for more information about this amazing version of New York in miniature!
Many people often skip Queens beyond flying in and out of Kennedy Airport. As someone who grew up in Queens, I’m here to inform you about of my favorite places to learn about New York City and see it from “above” without paying for a helicopter flight!
Ever since I was a child, my parents would bring me to the Queens Museum of Art, which is arguably one of the best small museums in New York City. This small museum in Flushing Meadow Park (close to the Unisphere and U.S. Open) houses numerous Tiffany lamps, the Panorama of the City of New York, and many modern art exhibitions. The exhibitions often change, but they generally focus on featuring New Yorkers as well as provocative political art. Admission is suggested at $8 per person and $4 for children.
This whole complex was built just in time for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. This “helicopter ride” over New York was one of the biggest attractions of the fair, which allowed visitors to learn about the geography and buildings of New York City.
I like to think of this panorama as a love letter to New York and I promise anyone obsessed with New York: this miniature will leave you fascinated for at least an hour. If you can catch one of the tours, you’ll be able to hear about some of the neighborhoods on the map.
History of the Panorama
This miniature model was built by the well-known architecture firm Lester & Associates using aerial photos, insurance maps, and other official materials. At the time, it was the largest scale model in the world. This miniature version of New York City (scale 1:1200) gives you an idea of the vastness of New York City, which stretches far beyond Manhattan.
Within the model, you’ll see more than 850,000+ miniature buildings, each lovingly created with care. Visitors walk on top of the glass prior to climbing along the edges to see “G-d’s view of New York.” I always love checking the detailing in New York’s most famous buildings, including the Statue of Liberty.
Another amazing feature is that you can see how New York changes from dusk until dawn. The lights in the display change to allow you to admire New York in daylight prior to seeing how beautiful the Big Apple is at night. You’ll also see the colored lights within the municipal buildings and planes landing at LaGuardia Airport.
In 1992, the model was updated with nearly 60,000 buildings replaced. Since 2009, the Queens Museum of Art has allowed citizens to buy the cheapest property in New York: buildings for only $100 on the panorama. This money has allowed the museum to update its display to include changes to the city’s landscape over the past few years.