NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two teenagers were in trouble Thursday night, after making a dangerous climb inside a Queens landmark – the Astro-Towers on the old New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
CBS2’s Sonia Rincon talked to one of the teens, and discovered that it is not that hard to get in.
The space-age Astro-Towers were constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair. They tower above the park, but have been vacant, rusting and decaying for about 50 years. They also tempted some teens looking for that breathtaking photo that leads to “likes” and bragging rights on Instagram.
“Yeah, I took a lot of pictures,” said Alexander Cevallos, 15.
Cevallos and four other teens were caught scaling the towers Sunday after Parks Enforcement officers spotted them all the way in the top tower.
The City Department of Parks and Recreation said it has padlocked a fence and secured the area around it. But the hole the kids crawled through was still there Thursday – CBS2 had no trouble getting in.
But the teens actually went up the stairs.
“(That) is incredibly dangerous,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates. “First of all, it’s been abandoned since 1965. And the staircases are rotting away.”
Croft said the rusty staircases are death traps, and an accident waiting to happen.
“People should stay away from them — especially kids,” he said.
Cevallos said he did not think about how dangerous it was to climb the towers.
“I mean, I didn’t see it that way,” he said.
Cevallos admitted it was not his first time up there, but said it will be his last.
“Nah, I’m not going back there,” he said.
The teens went in through a ground-level door, climbed up those treacherous stairs inside, and crossed over to the top tower.
Park enforcement patrol officers found the entry door open. A fresh padlock has since been placed on it.
Cevallos and another teen were charged with trespassing and having graffiti markers. He insists he was only there to take pictures.
Croft said there is no reason the iconic towers shouldn’t be fully restored so that anyone can go up there safely and take a picture.
“And it’s really sad that the city has allowed them to fall apart,” he said.
When the pavilion was open for the fair, the three space-age towers were accessible by capsule elevators. The shorter two towers held cafeterias, and the tallest – measuring 226 feet – held an observation deck.
In 1997, moviegoers saw one of the disks atop the pavilion towers reveal itself to be a spaceship, take off, and then crash into the nearby Unisphere in the movie “Men in Black.” But the actual pavilion has stayed right where it was, shuttered and rusting.
There is some money allocated for making some improvements at the old pavilion. In the meantime, Croft said no one should risk his or her life for the view.