Places that Matter

Unisphere

click on image for slideshow
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Unisphere close-up, Chester Burger
Unisphere overview, Chester Burger
Unispher in tree branches, Chester Burger
Built by US Steel as the symbol of the 1964-5 New York World's Fair
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Place Matters Profile

Built by U.S. Steel as the symbol of the New York World's Fair of 1964-65, the Unisphere stands 140-feet high and weighs 900,000 pounds making it the largest globe in the world. The Unisphere is an official New York City landmark, but it is also a people's landmark--as a favorite backdrop for ethnic festivals (such as the Jishin Balpgi Korean New Year, Colombian Independence Day and the Ecuadorian Parade and Festival) and as a gathering place for skateboarders, among others. When it was built, it served as the centerpiece and visual logo for the World's Fair. To the residents of Queens it continues to lend a sense of unity to this diverse borough and provides it with a visual focal point.

Among the workers who constructed this mammoth structure were Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake and Akwesasne reservations. Typically such labor remains invisible, but on the Unisphere, Mohawk workmen convinced the authorities to include their capital in lights among the other great capitals of the world. When the Unisphere opened to the public, not only did cities like New York, Paris, and London light up, so did Kahnawake.