It might be surprising to know that most of the world’s countries did not have exhibits at the ’64-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. Not because of any particular animus or grudge against the United States or New York City…it was just that there had already been a previous World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962, and most countries devoted their resources to that Fair. Nevertheless, 36 countries were represented, among them Jordan, whose young King Hussein presented this 30-foot, approximately 30-ton high marble column, supposedly built by the Romans during their occupation of the Holy Land in 120 A.D. in the city of Jerash. Although the column was originally thought to have been part of the temple of Artemis in that city, recent research indicates that temple is not the source of the column; nevertheless, it’s believed to be from the same time period.
John Dereszewski in Comments:
Actually the reason for the limited degree of international involvement in the 64-65 World’s Fair had to do with a number of disputes involving Robert Moses, who autocratically directed the fair’s operation, and the international group that sponsored exhibitions of this nature. Things got so bad that the international group urged foreign nations NOT to participate in this event. This story is very well documented in Robert Caro’s biography of Moses.
Incidentally, the Jordan pavilion was controversial since it included a mural depicting the plight of the Palestinian refugees that was considered to be anti-Israel. Frankly, I thought the mural was more anti-British than anything else.
According to the NYC Bureau of Parks, the Jordanian pavilion was a splendid “multi-peaked-and domed structure with an undulating roof, and surfaced in gold mosaic and shimmering blue glass.” The column is also marked by a tablet on the park path. The Column is likely the second-oldest man-made object in a New York City park (after the Egyptian obelisk known as “Cleopatra’s Needle” in Central Park, which is fully 3500 years old).