It’s One Way to Get Your Hands on a Bit of New York Real Estate
March 17, 2009, The New York Times — When even the Metropolitan Museum of Art is laying off staff members, what do you do if your financial base is less Fifth Avenue and more Queens Boulevard?
The Queens Museum of Art has come up with a creative way of weathering the downturn and its attendant drop in donations to cultural institutions: capitalizing on a unique piece of New York real estate.
The museum’s most famous asset is its 9,335-square-foot scale model of New York City, originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair. The Panorama of the City of New York has 895,000 structures, replicating every street, bridge and skyscraper in the five boroughs.
It is the physical and sentimental centerpiece of the museum, located on the old fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, next to the Unisphere, the enormous stainless-steel globe that was also built for the fair and has become an unofficial symbol of Queens.
Now, the museum is beginning an Adopt-a-Building program.
Starting Monday, you can “own” an apartment in the tiny world of the model — say, the one you live in — for $50. A single-family house will cost $250.
And for $10,000, developers can have their brand-new glass-tower condo buildings added to the panorama — no matter how many units are languishing on the market. “Buyers” will even be awarded their own deeds.
Until now, the panorama has represented a snapshot of New York, frozen in time. In 1992, workers updated 60,000 structures to reflect the city’s constant churn of construction and demolition, but it has been untouched since then.
In this miniature world, the World Trade Center still stands, for instance, and the luxury towers now lining the Long Island City and Williamsburg waterfronts are nowhere to be seen.
Now, the panorama will evolve gradually along with the city — at least, for those who pay.