New Water Playground Coming to Flushing Meadows Corona Park

3/6/18 - By Jody Mercier

Good news for Queens families and anyone who visits the borough's biggest greenspace: Flushing Meadows Corona Park is getting a seriously face-lift that includes new water play areas for kids to cool down on a hot summer day. 

As part of a master plan developed by the Parks Department, the three fountains built for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair are getting a major update, including spray jets and a mist garden. The revamp plans also include fresh landscaping and more places to relax around the park.


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The expected before and after transformation of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks and rendering courtesy of Quennell Rothschild & Partners for NYC Parks

Collectively knowns as the Fountain of the Fairs, the project will eventually transform the three fountains and plaza between the Unisphere and the Fountain of the Planets into useable park space.

As the first phase of the project, the Reflecting Pool, at the base of the Unisphere, is set to become an interactive mist garden. Its base will be elevated to the level of the pedestrian plaza and paved in an Art Deco pattern to honor the 1939 World's Fair that was also held on the site. More than 500 nozzles will provide a cooling spray cloud rising 3–5 feet above the ground to greet visitors on hot summer days. The exterior of the fountain will be planted with ornamental grasses and plenty of benches, and lounge-chair seating will give visitors a place to rest. There will be tables, chairs, and parking for food trucks at a plaza at the edge of the mist garden.

Thanks to an infusion of cash from the mayor's office, the $5.23 million phase is set to begin in the fall, with an expected completion date of 12–18 months thereafter, so 2019 at the earliest.

Other facets of the master plan would transform the existing Center Fountain into a theater space, with tiered seating built into the fountain's interior allowing for flexible stage locations, thus providing options for performances and programming to benefit the community.

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The park has been designed to be inclusive of all ages. 

The Large Fountain, closest to the Fountain of the Planets Plaza, will eventually become another interactive water play area. One end will be dedicated to preschool play, and the opposite offers space for older children to frolic. Spray jets will arch into the recessed fountain area, calling to mind its intial design, and the edge will provide casual seating for parents to lounge and watch their kids play.

Both the Center Fountain and Large Fountain projects are part of the master plan, along with some improvements to the Fountain of the Planets Plaza and the Rock Thrower Garden, but funding must be secured before any construction timeline is set for those facets.

The master plan was developed by landscape architecture firm Quennell Rothschild & Partners in conjuction with the Parks Department and is the result of meetings with the community to understand its needs, plus a study of the history of the site and the role this space played in both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs. The aim is to maintain some of the historical significance of the design, while making it useful for a new generation of parkgoers.

Looking for more new spots and updates? Check out The 15 Most Exciting Things Coming to NYC This Year for Kids.

Renderings courtesy of Quennell Rothschild & Partners for NYC Parks

Places featured in this article:

Flushing Meadows Corona Park