Right before I moved to New York, I dropped a fair chunk of money on some athletic gear, including a new pair of $100 Brooks running shoes, Nike compression shorts, and moisture-wicking t-shirts. The plan was to incorporate jogging into my routine, but of course, that hasn't happened. I didn't anticipate being so exhausted everyday from walking all the time! I do want to start exercising eventually though, so because the weather is beautiful this weekend, I did some reconnaissance for potential training grounds and trekked out to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which is only a 10-minute bus ride away. At 1,255 acres, the park is enormous, and it was one of the first things I noticed when I looked at a map of the area. Strangely enough, no one has ever recommended it to me as a place to visit, and my landlord's son said he's never been in his 11 years of living here.
I decided to go anyway and was very pleasantly surprised by the wide, well-kept green expanses. Even with the fallen trees and debris littering the ground from this past week's tornadoes, it was indeed a lovely place. Flushing Meadows Corona Park was the site of both the 1939-40 New York World's Fair (the largest world's fair of all time) and the 1964-65 New York World's Fair (through which Belgian waffles were first introduced to the United States). Perhaps more relevant to modern audiences, multiple landmarks from park figured prominently into the plot of Men in Black (the New York State Pavilion's observatory towers turned out to be alien spacecraft, and it was crashed over the Unisphere), and it was the site of the lavish if fictional Stark Expo 2010 in Iron Man 2 (Director Jon Favreau grew up in Queens).
In real life, the park is home to several iconic buildings and sculptures, including the aforementioned Unisphere, one of the largest globes ever made, and the now defunct but still photogenic New York State Pavilion. The New York Mets play at the nearby Citi Field, and the U.S. Open was held at the park's USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Also on-site are the New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum of Art, Queens Zoo, and a number of magnificent public art pieces. I didn't actually visit or enter any of these famous landmarks; what I saw was mostly people: dozens of soccer teams, skater punks performing tricks on their skateboards, kids playing tag, picnickers and grillmasters, and even a group of radio-controlled motor drag racers. The population using the park was overwhelmingly Hispanic, and Latin tunes filled the air, whether blared from a boombox or performed impromptu from the sidelines by sports fans (who apparently enjoy bringing maracas and drums to games).
As I left the park, I spied a long line outside a nearby Italian ice stand called The Lemon Ice King of Corona. I had just finished reading reviews this afternoon about things to do in Queens, and this place came highly recommended, so I was very pleased to randomly run into it on my way to the bus stop. They use real fruit chunks and have dozens of flavors. The frozen treat was delicious and may prove my downfall if I have to walk by every time I finish working out.
Before I went home I swung by the Queens Center Mall to pick up a birthday gift for a party I am attending tomorrow. Despite living literally seven blocks away, I'd never visited before and was stunned at the size and offerings at this shopping megaplex. It measures 966,499 square feet with more than 150 stores, and it is apparently one of the most profitable malls in the nation. It's nice to know there's an enormous mall within walking distance if I ever need to get out of the house for a while.
|Pretty sunlit benches at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.|
|Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.|
|The sun sets behind the flags at Universe Court.|
|Gnarly tree roots.|
|"Rocket Thrower," a sculpture created for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.|
|The iconic Unisphere, a well-known symbol of Queens, created as a centerpiece for the created for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.|
|The Unisphere at sunset. With its Space Age theme, you can see why this park would be such a great venue for Iron Man 2's Stark Expo 2010.|
|The United States of America on the Unisphere.|
|The now defunct and dilapidated New York State Pavilion, originally built for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The observation towers turned into alien spacecraft in the movie Men in Black.|
|Airplanes fly over all the time because of the proximity to LaGuardia Airport.|
|Now in decay, the New York State Pavilion was a glowing architectural achievement when first built and housed art from now-famous up-and-coming young artists.|
|I usually don't do black and white shots, but this building lent itself particularly well to monochrome photgraphy.|
|The details just look better in black and white.|
|A quaint little gazebo at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.|
|I had just finished reading about this place online, and lo and behold, I ran into it completely by accident on my way to the bus stop!|
|My delicious strawberry-banana Italian Ice from The Lemon Ice King of Corona.|
|The massive Queens Center Mall.|
|My second cooking endeavor was another scrumptious success! On the menu: bacon-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with pesto, spinach, red peppers, green onion, and Italian cheeses. I was trying to use up all the ingredients from last week's tuna quesadillas, hehe.|