New York City New Deal...
1939 World's Fair Aquacade
Billy Rose's Aquacade in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, star of the 1939-40
World's Fair, 10,000 seats looking down on a pool "big enough to fit 1,750
tons of water (when there's
much water, gallons ain't gonna cut it)... Synchronized
swimming bathing beauties... [Billy Rose was] the 'aquatic Busby
Berkeley'". It was designed by architects Sloan & Robertson in 1936,
with several last-minute changes by Billy Rose in 1939. Thus the
Aquacade itself was not a New Deal project, except insofar as it sat on land
and an infrastructure prepared for it by the WPA (and unless WPA
labor was involved in building it).
Photo: Culver Pictures via New York Times, 28 May 1995.
|Aquacade at the 1939 World's Fair
|Aquacade walkway plaque
|1963 concession building plaque
The amphitheatre was meant to be a permanent adornment for the park. After
the fair the site was converted to the New York State Marine Amphitheater
by the Parks Department with New Deal funding, the architect
was Aymar Embury II.
It served as a public swimming pool as well as an entertainment venue
— light towers, control booth and 9,000 seats left intact — for
many years, including the 1964-65 World's Fair, and later renamed the
Gertrude Ederle Amphitheater after the English Channel swimmer who grew up
in New York and also performed at the Aquacade. Over time the facility fell
into disrepair; the pool was closed in 1977 and the entire amphitheater was
demolished in 1996[1,2].
New York State Marine Amphitheater, Flushing Meadow, Queens, 1941-1977.
New York World's Fair, Wikipedia, accessed 4 November 2019.
Old Aquacade, Things Aren't Going Swimmingly,
New York Times, 28 May 1995, p.218.
of City Pool to Be Built on Site of Aquacade,
New York Times, 16 January 1941, p.20: "Aymur Embury 2d is the
World's Fair Remnants, Kevin Walsh,
Forgotten New York, accessed 4 November 2019.
Queens, Sergey Kadinsky, hiddenwatersblog.wordpress.com, April 19,
2016, accessed 4 November 2019.
Amphitheater Groups, Flushing Meadows Corona Park,
NYC Parks Department website, accessed 4 November 2019.
to be opened on Aquacade site, New York Times, July 14, 1941,
p.15: "The New York State Amphitheater, scene of the Aquacade during the
World's Fair, will be opened by the Department of Parks [July 26, 1941] as a
combination outdoor swimming pool and theatre for the presentation, of water
carnivals and other spectacles, it was announced yesterday."
- New York World's Fair 1939
and 1940 Incorporated records, New York Public Library Archives and
Manuscripts (in about 2000 boxes).
20 minutes, mostly in color, Youtube (with anachronistic music and lots of
ads), accessed 4 November 2019.
videos at archive.org.
- The 1939
World's Fair, The Atlantic,
November 1, 2013 (photo gallery).
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 6 Dec 1940, p.5.
fair's million-dollar aquacade, Queens Chronicle,
22 March 2012.