As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I can tell you that the Unisphere is a point of pride for many New Yorkers. This post will discuss the history of the Unisphere along with some insider tips for your visit to this famous Queens attraction.
This globe in Queens, the largest globe in the world, is one of the highlights of visiting Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. As someone from Queens, I always try to bring my guests to this epic attraction, which despite its age. This symbol of Queen is often shown on repeat during the introduction films to the U.S. Open for Tennis, which occurs each summer at the nearby USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The Unisphere is a stainless steel sculpture of the Earth, which was built for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. This was one of the big draws of the fair, which is where the Brussels waffle was invented. The sphere is 140 feet high and 120 feet wide. It was meant to remind viewers that global relationships are key.
You might have seen the Unisphere in Men in Black, the credits of the King of Queens, or in the “Mo Money Mo Problems” by the Notorious BIG. (Pro tip: Wear your red tracksuit for the ultimate selfie here.) In the Marvel universe, the Unisphere is part of the Stark Expo.
History of the Unisphere
Like many things in New York City, you can thank (or hate on) Robert Moses for the Unisphere. The park where the Unisphere sits was once an ash dump, which was converted into a park in time for the 1939 World’s Fair. The park was closed during World War II, but revisioned in the post-war era.
Robert Moses was in charge of the World’s Fair Corporation, which leased the park. The Unisphere was originally supposed to be made of aluminum, however, it was built in 110 days using stainless steel by US Steel.
This is the world’s largest globe at this point and it becomes especially lovely in the spring/summer when the fountain surrounding it is turned on, which is meant to evoke space. The rings surrounding the Unisphere are meant to symbolize the three space pioneers: Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and the Telstar satellite.
Location of the Unisphere
You’ll find the Unisphere directly behind the Queens Museum, one of my favorite modern art museum in New York with suggested admission. There is limited free parking by the Queens Museum although avoid coming here by car during the US Open and on Met game days (typically afternoons/evenings).
It’s a great stop-off en route to LaGuardia airport or Citi Field and you’re going to be able to briefly see it from LIE.
To get to the Unisphere, you can take the 7 train to Mets – Willets Point. Turn away from Citifield. It’s a short walk (5 minutes).
Other attractions near the Unisphere
Don’t leave after your selfie! Notably, you’ll want to enter this museum to see the Panorama of the City of New York. This perfectly sized miniature of New York never ceases to amaze me with its tiny details, enough to help me imagine that I was in a helicopter over New York City.
There’s usually a Mr. Softie here in the summers, so bring cash and consider taking a seat on the benches to take a moment to enjoy this lovely sculpture while enjoying your ice cream.
The Freedom of the Human Spirit is a remnant statue from the 1939 World’s Fair and it’s especially lovely with the fountains on. I just love coming here after a nice day out in Queens whether it’s eating delicious Chinese food in Flushing and strolling through the Queens Botanical Garden. If you have young kids, the New York Hall Of Science should be on your list.