We recently took a little tourist trip to Gulliver’s Gate, an exhibit near Times Square that depicts world cities in small scale. We began our tour right in New York, since we were already on 44th Street. We had a much better view of the Manhattan skyline than from our hotel room. Little Italy is even littler than we thought, the High Line not as high, and traffic whizzed by beneath us in amazing detail, right down to a tiny traffic jam caused by an accident. Even in a scaled-down car, you’re always running into someone you haven’t seen in a while.
As I stand in front of the miniature Manhattan with my hands on the railings, I fantasize that I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld in a James Bond movie, and I hold in my hand the fate of the entire free world. I can scan the cable TV channels at any time of the day or night and find a 007 flick. “Look, honey, it’s ‘Gold is Not Forever Again, Twice!’ I don’t think we’ve ever seen this one!” I gush to my wife (we’ve seen every James Bond movie approximately 87,000 times). She rolls both eyes for the 87,001 and 87,002 times.
“Sooo, Meesteer Bond, I see you have joined us just in time to witness the TOTAL DESTRUCTION of NEW YORK CEETY! If you look closely at these leetle people, you can almost see the terror on their leetle faces!” Then I laugh nefariously, which is something that I do practice on my dog. I’m just about to press a button on the bottom of the railing that will drop Bond into a vat of deadly piranha fish. First, I ask the commander how much he weighs, because if you know anything about keeping a fish tank, you know NOT to overfeed the fish.
Well, Bond escapes again, using a watch with a tiny Milwaukee Sawzall inside of it, so we continue around the room, touring the world without having to worry about our flight connections. We visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa (complete with tourists trying to right it with ropes), the Kremlin, the Great Pyramids and the Taj Mahal. There were even miniature renderings of the major monuments in Washington, D.C., although Trump’s hands and political accomplishments were shown in actual size.
A member of the staff was demonstrating how they make the various parts of the exhibit using a 3-D printer. I don’t know about you, but I have enough trouble getting a 2-D printer to work, and I can picture me trying to print out New York, and I end up with two Empire State Buildings stuck together, hoping nobody will notice.
Each country was assembled in its own location, where it was decided that the native model makers knew best how to represent their own part of the world. The cars and other vehicles that move throughout the display are driven by computer using sensors. The more than 100,000 tiny humans (they like to be referred to as “little people”) are shown in all walks of life, including the Beatles walking on Abbey Road.
The attraction is very kid-friendly and photos and social media sharing are encouraged. The name, of course, comes from Jonathan Swift’s 18th century satire. I ran into Gulliver recently, who is now retired, and I asked him for any advice he might have on the subject. “Whatever you do, DON’T travel. What a disaster that was, but that’s another story....”
Say hello to Rick Melén at firstname.lastname@example.org
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