By Bill Knell
Flushing Meadows Park has a long and unusual history. It is located ten miles east of Manhattan on Long Island in the Borough of Queens, New York City, between the towns of Flushing and Corona. The park started out as swampy land situated along Flushing Creek. The area skirted ancient Native American trails that were later developed into Rodman Street (today it’s called College Point Boulevard), Roosevelt Avenue and other paved roadways.
The place had a bad reputation among the original inhabitants. The Jameco, Reckowacky and Mespat Indians avoided fishing and hunting in that area. Most animals stayed away from the Mosquito ridden grounds with its stale water and often foul odor. When Dutch and English Settlers arrived in the region during the early to mid-1600s and began to establish farms, homes and business, they found the swampy land equally repulsive.
The Settlers called the area “rotten land” and avoided it for health and superstitious reasons. Odd lights were often seen high over the swamp and some of these sightings were noted in early church logbooks. These sightings should not be confused with swamp gas, a natural phenomenon that requires certain environmental elements to be present when it occurs and never appears very far off the ground.
Because of its location and inability to be used for much else, the swampy land became a dumping area for ashes. By the 1920’s, it was known as the Corona Ash Dumps. F. Scott Fitzgerald called the place “a valley of ashes” in The Great Gatsby, his famous 1925 novel about Long Island Society. However, the once worthless area was about to be transformed into a marvelous showplace thanks to a grand event known as the World’s Fair.
Because it was one of the few large blocks of land still available for development in the New York City area, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and city planners devised a plan to clear and fill the land for use as the site of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Most of the ashes and refuse were incorporated into the bases of new highways that were being built around and through that area. These later became the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, Interboro Parkway and Long Island Expressway.
After the 1939-1940 World’s Fair ended in 1940, many of the structures from the fair were leveled and the area became known as Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. A few of the buildings that remained included the New York State Pavilion that was used as the first home to the United Nations from 1946 until 1951 when that organization moved into their permanent location in Manhattan. That building still exists today and has become the Queens Museum of Art.
Flushing Meadows Park again became the home to an international exposition after it was chosen as the location for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. After the fair closed, the area again was left with a few prominent buildings from the event including the Unisphere, the Heliport (which became a catering establishment) and the Observation Towers (featured in the Men in Black film with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones). The area also became home to Shea Stadium (used by the NY Mets Baseball Team), the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where the U.S. Open is held), a zoo and other facilities used for swimming, aquatic and boating events.
During the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, there were several UFO sightings that made the news. Most were described as lights in the sky and were explained away as aircraft taking off or landing at nearby LaGuardia Airport. However, it should be noted that people in that area are used to seeing all kinds of aircraft and aircraft lights associated with landings and takeoffs from LaGuardia and JFK Airports. They know when they see something different in the day or night sky.
The sightings of strange lights above the old fairgrounds continued after the World’s Fair ended and in 1966, one of the most startling occurred. Hundreds of motorists driving on the Grand Central Parkway side of Flushing Meadows Park reported seeing a large luminescent blue-green object, which looked “like a glowing dirigible that came into view and then descended into the lake,” at about 7:40 in the evening. A press report from those days stated:
“A number of observers said that the object appeared to correspond to the descriptions of UFOs reported in Michigan the previous week, which Air Force experts had attributed to swamp gas discharged from lake bottoms in springtime. This explanation did not satisfy everyone in Queens. Some thought that “maybe the Martians wanted to visit the World’s Fair, and didn’t know it was over.”
More recently, a number of reports came in about white and green lights in a triangular formation seen moving back and forth over Flushing Meadows Park during July 2-5, 2008. Some of the witnesses said that the lights suddenly appeared, disappeared and reappeared again between 10pm and 3am on those dates. However, strange lights are not the only bizarre phenomena associated with UFOs that has occurred in the park.
In 1968, the Flushing Meadows Zoo opened in Flushing Meadows Park on the grounds of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. Although small in scale, the zoo had a number of exhibits and plenty of animals including sea lions, black bears, sheep, bison, mountain lions, coyotes, bald eagles, birds and wolves. Since its opening, the Zoo has been associated with several disturbing UFO events. The first may have occurred in 1977.
After several nights of UFO sightings above the park, wolves managed to escape from the zoo on November 30, 1977. Official reports said that twelve wolves clawed their way through a chain link fence surrounding their pen and killed several other animals until they were recaptured by parks department personnel and police. However, a caretaker working there at the time said that while making his rounds he found several animals missing, not just the wolves, and others dead. The dead animals did not look like they had been killed by predators. He also said that none of the animal pens or enclosures had been unlocked, damaged or tampered with.
There have been a number of odd instances where UFO sightings are associated with the sudden appearance or disappearance of animals. Animals found to be missing from zoos turn up elsewhere without explanation. Wild animals not native to an area suddenly appear in that area also without explanation. All this tends to occur during times when UFOs are observed nearby.
The caretaker present during the 1977 event first contacted me in 1989 about another and far more disturbing occurrence at the Zoo. He and several others that worked there met me near the area of the zoo. It was being rebuilt at the time and they claimed that the reason for that was something so disturbing that I still have trouble grasping the enormity of what happened.
After seeing me on a local television news broadcast talking about a major UFO sighting and landing in nearby Kissena Park, several employees of the zoo called my UFO hotline and asked to meet with me. After a phone conversation with one of them, I met them at Flushing Meadows Park and we talked about what happened at the zoo. It began with two nights of UFO sightings in 1987. Green and white balls of light that formed into all sorts of shapes hovered directly above the zoo and caused the animals to become greatly disturbed.
Due to budget cuts and because there were police in the park all night long, caretakers and other zoo employees were no longer present at the zoo all night. The last one would leave around 11pm and show up again around 7:30am to open up the zoo for the other employees. On the morning after the two nights of UFO sightings in 1987, the caretaker and several other employees opened up the zoo and were horrified to find every animal in the zoo dead. Not just dead, but strangely mutilated.
The caretaker and other employees told me that all of the animals were still locked or secured in their pens and exhibits with no sign of forced or keyed entry. Although they were unable to photograph any of the animals, they said all of them looked as though they had been surgically autopsied or examined. Despite the deaths and apparent mutilation, little or no blood was present. Needless to say, the zoo was closed without explanation and “No Trespassing” signs were placed near the entrance and on fences surrounding it.
Parks Department personnel and police were summoned. The zoo was closed and within hours, all of the dead animal carcasses were removed. At that point, plans were made for the zoo to be leveled. Officially, the deaths never happened at that point and the press showed no interest in the matter if it was even reported to them at all. With plans already in the works to refurbish the zoo buildings, it was not that hard to arrange for the entire zoo property to be rebuilt from the ground up with new ground.
All of the old buildings and enclosures were destroyed and several inches of dirt were removed from the area of the zoo. During this time, none of the employees that spoke to me were allowed near the place. Most were assigned to other temporary duties in the park. When it officially reopened in 1988, the zoo had all already undergone a $16 million rebuilding. All new buildings, exhibits and animals were now available to the public.
The zoo employees that spoke to me said that the animal deaths and mutilations were eventually explained away as the work of vandals or ritualistic killers in an internal report. However, they point out that vandals would have made all kinds of noise trying to kill the animals, had to break into most of the pens and exhibits and would have left a significant amount of blood and other evidence behind. None of those things were present, no alarms went off and park police and other employees working in nearby areas on the night in question heard nothing.
The only reason that the caretaker and employees contacted me with their stories was because they felt that the possibility existed that the same thing could happen again and found the previous explanation for the deaths and mutilations to be ridiculous. In fact, UFOs were seen over the zoo again in 1991. At that time there were no deaths or mutilations, but the same employees told me that several animals were found to be missing from the zoo. They were not specific about which animals were missing and, by that time, were in fear of losing their jobs. Again, the zoo was closed without explanation with “No Trespassing” signs were placed near the entrance and all around the area.
During the unannounced and temporarily closure, yet another expensive zoo upgrade took place. This one not only involved some new exhibits and rebuilds, but the installation of sophisticated security devices. A dew local papers noticed the closure and asked questions, but officials merely said that funds had suddenly become available for an upgrade and that it needed to be completely before the money ran out. The zoo reopened to the public in June of 1992. No further incidents have occurred that I am aware of, but all of the employees that first contacted me in 1989 have retired. UFO sightings continue over Flushing Meadow Park.
It’s important to understand that a number of animal disappearances and mutilations associated with UFO sightings have occurred for many years throughout the world. Cows, horses and other farm animals have especially been targets of this type of activity. As with the zoo animals, little blood is found nearby when mutilation occur. Animals are found missing from locked barns and secured pens. Farmers and ranchers have reported these kinds of incidents, while law enforcement officers and veterinary practitioners have been at a loss to explain them.
A few human mutilations associated with UFO events have also been reported. Fortunately, these incidents are rare. After a B-52 crash in Laos during the Vietnam War, a Special Forces team sent in to retrieve the crew found them all dead, still strapped into their seats and strangely mutilated. No blood was present. The photos and information collected at the site were later placed in a secret report known as Blue Book Report 13. That indicates that the U.S. Government somehow associated that incident with UFOs.
There have been a number of unexplained animal deaths, disappearances and mutilations throughout Long Island over the years. These include the discovery of a Saint Bernard dog that was found in another Queens park turned inside out in the 1980s, a number of missing dogs and cats that mysteriously vanished from Suffolk County neighborhoods in the 1990s, wild game missing from a lodge where hunting was permitted in the Montauk area during the 1970s-1980s, and a few cattle mutilations in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties during the 1980s to the present.