It’s impossible to not to look at the soaring white arch on Hempstead Turnpike in front of the Cherry Valley Shopping Center, even if you’ve grown accustomed to its presence. It demands your attention, if only for a moment, as if to say that despite its state of disrepair, it’s not just any old arch.
This arch is a 60-foot souvenir of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park.
It is one of 11 arches that were erected during the fair to provide public service announcements on electric message boards – a revolutionary form of communication - to the millions who visited. According to information received from the West Hempstead Historical Society, the arches were created by General Foods and Time Inc. and provided significant local, national, and international news to the crowds. Also included between the arches was a colorful neon sign with the introspective message “Peace Through Understanding”. The original eye bolts and rings that held the neon sign can still be seen today.
The 11 arches were located throughout the fair and ultimately became a preferred meeting point for family and friends.
Soon after the fair’s conclusion, the arches were disassembled and reassembled at Cherry Valley Shopping Center by its original owners, General Foods. Kraft General Foods, interestingly, owns the Cherry Valley Shopping Center today.
Today, the arch sits badly rusted, with paint peeling throughout its entire surface. Defacers have even managed to post unsolicited signs and write graffiti on it that apparently has not ruffled the feathers of the shopping complex’s management. The Herald could not reach the shopping center’s property management company for comment prior to the paper’s deadline.
Five of the 11 World’s Fair arches have been found in locations throughout the United States. Two arches stand in front of the Duff Quarry headquarters in Huntsville, Ohio, one is located in the Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, N.Y. and one is located in Rocky Point Park in Warwick, N.J.