From monument to masses

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The World Monuments Fund just released its 2008 list of most endangered sites (guess they wanted to get a head start on awards season). As could be expected, most of the trouble spots were in far-off lands like Peru (Machu Picchu), Malta (Fort St. Elmo, pictured above) and Afghanistan (the Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by Taliban forces in 2001).

What's surprising, though, is the number of endangered structures located in the U.S.—seven in total, including the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California; the Frank Lloyd Wright--designed Florida Southern University Historic Campus in Lakeland, Florida; and that famed interstate of screen and song, Route 66.

Even more shocking, one of them is right here in our backyard.

No, not literally in our backyard—although that kiddie pool is looking pretty skeevy these days. We're talking about once-famous New York State Pavilion in Flushing, Queens, created for the 1964 World's Fair by renowned architect Phillip Johnson. Hard as it may be to believe when you look at the dingy World's Fair towers, but more than 6 million visitors schlepped out to Corona Park to see the "Tent of Tomorrow."

Here's how the Fund describes the situation today:

"An icon to some, an eyesore to others, this remarkable complex, including the 'Tent of Tomorrow' is endangered by neglect and indifference as much as by rust."

Dude, that's harsh. But possibly accurate.

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The city has made efforts at renovating the pavilion area over the past few decades—including a $24,000 partial reconstruction of the lower tower—but it's hard to say whether they've made much of a difference. Why not hop on the 7 train to Willets Point and see for yourself?

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