The Panorama of the City of New York

25 APRIL 2012
Fiona and I took Alfred in our branch to check out one of the most remarkable constructions I have ever seen: the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art. It is a scale model of the city’s five boroughs, including every existing building in the city as of 1992—all 895,000 of them!

The 5 boroughs

Our house & neighborhood

Panorama of the City of New York

Bushwick, Brooklyn
On so huge a model depicting so many buildings, finding a specific structure is not the easiest task. Fortunately, there are two elevated subway lines running close to our apartment; I was able to follow those to find the general area I should look. The other thing that helped: the fact that the tallest building for blocks around is across the street.


  • The model covers 9,335 square feet (867 square meters). By contrast, the real City of New York has a total area of 468.48 square miles (1,213.4 square kilometers), of which 302.64 square miles (783.8 square kilometers) is land and 165.84 square miles (429.5 square kilometers) is water.
  • All 895,000 buildings existing in the city as of 1992 are depicted on the model. Why 1992? That is when the model received its last major update, though the Queens Museum of Art has started an ingenious fundraising campaign to maintain and update the model in which people receive “deeds” for structures on the model in exchange for their donations.
  • The fundraiser was kicked off in spring 2009 with the first new addition to the model since 1992: Citi Field, Queens, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets (the team sponsored the addition). The model of Shea Stadium, the Mets’ former home, will be displayed elsewhere in the Queens Museum of Art.
  • The most recent addition is a model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, which was installed on 29 February 2012.
  • The model is built at 1:1,200 scale, which means that one inch equals 100 feet in real life. At that scale, an average human would be about 116 inch in height.
  • The Panorama was the brainchild of Robert Moses (go figure he was good for something other than destroying New York City’s neighborhoods and demolishing huge swaths of the city to build freeways) and was built for the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair.
  • The building that houses the Queens Museum of Art was the New York City pavilion at both the 1939–40 and 1964–65 world’s fairs.

See more photos of the Panorama of the City of New York on Dustin’s Flickr profile.

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