La Verne’s Unisphere

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“Unisfera Flushing” by Flapane via Wikipedia

I’ve long been curious about the Unisphere-like metal globe at the La Verne Business Park on Fairplex Drive south of Arrow Highway (see top photo). Reminiscent of the Unisphere from the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York (see above), it’s such a striking feature for a small industrial park across the street from the NHRA speedway at Fairplex.

Finally I stopped to take photos. The stainless steel globe once had a fountain around it (see below), just as does the original, but ours has gone dry. (The original Unisphere is still in place, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and has been restored. It’s 12 stories high!)

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Public art was a requirement of the industrial park’s development, according to the city planning department’s Eric Scherer. “Ironwork Globe,” as it’s titled, was designed by Penwal Industries of Rancho Cucamonga, manufactured overseas, shipped in parts (see photos below) and installed in 2005. At the time, owner and developer Tofasco Inc. was said to be the worldwide leader in sales of camping and fold-able chairs. (Its website has a silhouette of the globe.)

The globe is 20 feet in diameter, much smaller than the New York version’s 120 feet but still impressive.

From the La Verne public art brochure:

“‘Ironwork Globe’ is an elevated steel sculpture placed at the center of a water fountain meant to accompany Tofasco, Inc. and represent their defining characteristics: passion for the business in which they are involved and their ability to effectively and efficiently bridge the divide between an increasingly international marketplace.”

Penwal, according to Scherer’s research in city files, drew sketches of other concepts, “including an oversized folding chair which would open and close as it rotated.” Wow! He adds: “If we had approved that, I have a feeling you would have already written a column about it…”

Undoubtedly. It might resemble some of the other giant chairs — rocking, wooden, Duncan Phyfe — turned into oversized sculptures around the nation and overseas.

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  • Doug Evans

    How cats, I run past this every other week with my running club! We meet in the parking lot at Norm’s Hanger restaurant at Brackett Field Airport and our regular route takes us right past this location. When I first read this (back in August), I knew that the sculpture looked familiar, and I also realized the location was near where we run, but somehow I still didn’t put it together… until a recent run when, rounding a corner with my running friends, all of a sudden: there it was! I didn’t remember the details from your blog but now I’ve reread it and will be sure to enthrall my friends the next time we go past it. And then again two weeks after that and then again two weeks after that. This is why I’m a very popular member of the running club! (This opinion may not be held by every member of the club.)

    • davidallen909

      Glad you were able to put it all together — and can now run your mouth about its history to your running club!