KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
New York's Times Square has been called the crossroads of the world. A new tourist attraction there displays much of the world under one roof. Models of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas populated by tiny model humans, moving cars, trains, planes and boats make up a new exhibition called Gulliver's Gate. Reporter Jon Kalish had to check it out.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I want to see the...
JON KALISH, BYLINE: On opening day, sixth graders from Brooklyn Middle School 51 were among the first visitors.
BRIANNA JORDAN: On top of the Brooklyn Bridge, you can see, like, a little Spider-Man right at the edge.
KALISH: That bridge-climbing Spider-Man that caught the eyes of Brianna Jordan is less than an inch tall. Her classmate Adelle Ho got a kick out of the United Kingdom display, which has wee versions of Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge and a movie theater filled with animals.
ADELLE HO: There are actually penguins inside the theater watching "Happy Feet."
KALISH: New York City is here, too. And while it's not completely accurate, it still impressed 12-year-old Kate Flannick, who walked through Times Square to get to Gulliver's Gate.
KATE FLANNICK: It's really cool when you first enter. I saw New York, Times Square. And it was really beautiful. Everything in Times Square, you would know, like, this is what it was, you know?
KALISH: This New York City was made by Brooklyn model makers who couldn't resist etching images of themselves on the front of the New York Stock Exchange. The rest of the models were made abroad, says Eiran Gazit, the CEO of the for-profit exhibition.
EIRAN GAZIT: We said, let's build every area that is displayed in that area - so Europe from the view of a European, Russia from the view of a Russian, South America, Latin America from the view of an Argentinian.
KALISH: Model makers on different continents used different technologies.
(SOUNDBITE OF RUNNING WATER)
KALISH: Those in Argentina used actual water for the recreation of their country's Iguazu Falls. H2O is also flowing in the Panama Canal, which has working locks.
(SOUNDBITE OF PANAMA CANAL DISPLAY)
KALISH: Danish technology is used to control the hordes of mini vehicles that traverse the streets and countrysides. A system similar to one used for lighting Broadway shows controls thousands of LEDs in an exhibition that spans four different rooms. Altogether it's nearly 50,000 square feet.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't know if I can handle it.
KALISH: The models sit on platforms three to four feet off the ground, and there are low-to-the-floor benches for kids to stand on for a better view. Matthew Cote is the exhibition's chief technology officer.
MATTHEW COTE: In places, we want them to see the computers that live under the tables. We want them to see the blinking lights because that's part of the fun. That's part of what makes nerds like me go, wow, how did they do that?
KALISH: For a few extra bucks, visitors can step into a 3-D scanner and have a tiny plastic replica of themselves printed out and placed in the exhibition. But there are also homeless people portrayed because artistic director Tim Gilman-Sevcik says he wants to show urban life as it really is.
TIM GILMAN-SEVCIK: You get to see this kind of juxtaposition that we have here of somebody being loaded onto an ambulance. And then on the rooftop just overhead, there's a party going on. So it's showing that the city has innumerable stories running in parallel all the time.
KALISH: But it wasn't necessarily the stories that got 12-year-old Nicholas Kawasaki jazzed.
NICHOLAS KAWASAKI: Under the British Isles, there's a yellow submarine. Oh, man, this place is awesome.
KALISH: For NPR News, I'm John Kalish in New York.
(SOUNDBITE OF POOLSIDE SONG, "EVERYTHING GOES")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.