The Fun of the Fair

In the pavilions and on the avenues, you'll find color and excitement just watching the world go by

THE WORLD's FAIR is a solid square mile of showmanship. A visit here is an adventure, heightened by the pulsating beat of an African Burundi drummer, and enhanced by a glittering crescendo of fireworks. Far more than just a collection of buildings, the Fair is the sense of excitement you get from smelling the perfume-scented lumber at the Austria pavilion. It's the mingled aromas of Philippine beer, Yugoslavian shishkebab, and Ecuadorian bananas in the International Plaza; the deafening combination of bagpipes and rock 'n roll. It's fingering a bolt of Hong Kong silk worth $1,000 a yard, gliding over Ford's Magic Skyway Click image to close this window into the symbolic Space City, crowding into a family phone booth, strolling through a garden. Most memorably, the Fair is people: sightseers, performers, press agents and maintenance men. Your own starry-eyed children, and the face of each passer-by. A gaudily dressed African wearing an ostrich-feathered headdress, and a sloe-eyed Hindu beauty in a gold-spun sari. Spanish flamenco dancers, Polynesian pearl divers, and carnival pitchmen. A visiting dignitary, and a lost child perched on the edge of the Unisphere pool crying for his mommy. And it's you, too. Your own attitudes, your interests, your curiosity. Comfortable shoes are essential. So is good judgment. Relax, enjoy yourself, avoid crowds, and don't make the frustrating mistake of trying to cram everything into one day. As the Fair enters its second season, it pays to take a tip from a veteran Fairgoer: "Don't spend all your time inside." Scenery is as much a part of the Fair as computers, and many visitors overlook the Fair's natural charms because they are so busy racing headlong from one exhibit to the next. Sit quietly by a fountain, for example. With an arm draped loosely over the back of a park bench, you can see the Fair shining through the translucent screen of a waterfall. It's an enriching experience just to enjoy clear water beneath a clearer sky.
A simple walk can be exciting. Each promenade is a scenic delight, bordered by picturesque little waterways, and shaded by willow and poplar trees. Every grassy parkis landscaped with lush foliage, and accented with the exotic colors of tropical flowers, imported from the most remote corners of the world. You can recapture the fairyland of your childhood dreams just by wandering along a misty rainbowed avenue called "The Fountains of the Fairs."
Equally enchanting (but in a different way) are the tableaux that flash by as you walk along: a circle of picnickers sharing fried chicken while they dangle their feet in the duck pond at the Missouri pavilion, a college glee club serenading on the New England Village Green, a dozen teenagers sitting side by side on a bench, all munching gooey Belgian waffles topped with mounds and mounds of whipped cream and strawberries.
Your visit isn't complete, however, unless you've really looked into the Unisphere, the largest globular structure ever built by man. A towering twelve stories high, it stands as the pivotal center around which the rest of the Fair orbits. Imprisoned in its steel web is the quiet logic behind the Fair; its theme: "Peace through Understanding." An overwhelming impression from this, or any spot on Flushing Meadow, is that the whole Fair is in perpetual motion. You can hardly take a step without bumping into a moving vehicle. Crisscrossing the Fairgrounds are long, caterpillar-like trains. Spinning around the periphery are big, glass-domed buses. Whirling above is a dizzying myriad of flying machines. Out in the Marina, the hydrofoils lap back and forth from New York City. An unending chain of cable cars swings between Korea and Switzerland. Every pavilion is vibrating with activity. You will be impressed by the variety of sights. The Fair is super-computerized, super-animated, super-automated, and it is also warmed by the meditative glow of its many spiritual exhibits. Diversity is the Fair's foremost attraction, and yet, your image of it depends upon your vantage point. To capture the Fair in all its breath-taking glory, take a ride to the top of the New York State pavilion. A sky-streak elevator will lift you to the Fair's highest point, an observation deck towering 226 feet in the air. From here, you can see the magnitude of the achievement, the gleaming concentration of steel, glass and aluminum, anchored in a grassy meadow and framed by the New York skyline.
Many visitors set store by this panoramic vista, dotted with multitudinous architectural shapes, springing from a garden of over 5,000 trees and more than 400,000 flowers. Some people are startled by the crimson umbrella that is one rooftop, and the enormous white egg that is another. Some marvel at the translucent dome of the New York State building, which they are told is larger than a football field. A few sightseers point out the contrasts, with quaint cobblestone paths checkerboarding wide promenades, and a children's playground juxtaposed against a park full of satellites and rockets. Most tourists delight in the fanciful little International Area, where Denmark is tucked in cozily beside Venezuela, and India only a sky ride from Sweden.
Everyone is enthralled by the Fair at night. Neon-silhouetted against a black sky, the Fair dazzles. The jewel-pinnacled buildings almost spike the stars, and the fountains are not fountains at all, but tinseled comets shooting out into the darkness. The air quivers with nighttime sounds, like the wail of a Dixieland trumpet and the tinkle of laughter. The lights winking in the plastic cubicles overhanging the streets arc just ordinary lights, yet by some electrochemical miracle, the light they throw is pure gold. Every night at 9:00, the carillon above the Coca-Cola pavilion bursts into song. The Fountain of the Planets-the largest fountain in the world-sends tons of water jetting up in shifting patterns, with sprays as high as 150 feet. Soft violet and amber lights twinkle among the droplets. The music of a 60-piece symphony orchestra resounds over loudspeakers. Then, suddenly, there is the hiss of a Roman candle, a gentle explosion, and a brilliant blaze of colored light.
This synchronized display of water and fireworks caps the day and launches the evening's activities. But by day or night, the Fair is an impressive spectacle-a gay, swinging, lavish extravaganza. It can be as stirring as a church bell or as baffling as the Probability Machine at IBM. Always, it is an adventure.

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