New York Hall of Science

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Text and Photographs by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Natural History special issue

Part of City of Stars photo essay.

Photo of two rockets in a fenced off area adjacent to the New York Hall of Science.
Rocket display at the New York Hall of Science. The Mercury capsule and booster rocket are in the foreground, and the Gemini capsule and rocket is behind it.

America had a single-minded technopolitical goal for the 1960s: land men on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs became the means to that end. Displayed in the backyard of the New York Hall of Science are the single-occupancy Mercury (foreground) and the double-occupancy Geminispace capsules, atop their respective rocket boosters. The red escape tower attached to the nose of the Mercurycapsule was designed to pull it (and its occupant) to safety if the rocket malfunctioned on takeoff. Mounted nearby is an imagined modern airplane that never came to be.

These craft are what remain from the expansive outdoor display that was part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow. In the background of this photograph, an ordinary airplane takes off from nearby LaGuardia Airport.


No doubt about it. Your wristwatch is much easier to read than this oversize, five-level, spiral-framed sundial parked at the front entrance to the otherwise kid-friendly Hall of Science. When I took this picture, the Sun was high, bright, and hot. A dozen children who might otherwise crowd around the device to read its clock face were instead using it for shade—an embarrassing situation for any sundial. Two of the twelve children are partly visible, one on each side, seated below the large metal plates.

Photo of the elaborate sundial, a large, round, metal sculpture with many levels and the shadow over the time indicators.
The sundial outside the entrance of the New York Hall of Science.
Children seen sitting under the sundial and in the shade in front of the entrance to the New York Hall of Science.
Children sitting under the sundial.