Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



May 1, 1962 -- The next time you hear Judy Garland belt out "Meet Me at the Fair," she won't be trying to set up a rendezvous with Louie in St. Louis, or in New York or Brussels, for that matter. She'll be singing about Seattle.

The World's Fair in Seattle this year is a sleeper. From the beginning, the Century 21 Exposition had all the earmarks of a regional extravaganza that would never graduate to the big time. Except for local officials in Seattle and the State of Washington, no one thought the Fair would amount to much. Century 21 also labored under the handicap and in the shadow of the huge fair scheduled for 1964 and 1965 in New York.

Well, happily for millions of vacation-bound Americans, the majority view seems to have been a wrong view. Advance inquiries and bookings for hotel accommodations and Fair admissions have exceeded even the fondest hopes of the city and state fathers. By the time the six-month-long exposition closes its portals October twenty-first, between ten and fifteen million visitors from the fifty states and almost every country around the world will have made the acquaintance of the Fair, Seattle, the State of Washington and, quite possibly, British Columbia to the north.

The Fair, and everything around it for several hundred miles, is ideally suited for a leisurely, exciting, informative and different vacation. And, whether your travel plans this year call for a solo, a husband-and-wife foray, or a full-family venture with the youngsters in tow, the best of all possible ways to get the maximum benefits is by car. Whether you drive all the way to Seattle--and highways in that part of the country are superb and scenic--or just pick up a U-drive once you arrive, the freedom and mobility that four wheels provide give the tourist the best chance to become familiar with the vast scope of the Pacific Northwest.

The Fair has practically everything. (It's about time we got to the Fair.) Dominating the seventy-four-acre site, just one mile from the heart of downtown Seattle, is the 600-foot high Space Needle, crowned by an observation platform and a restaurant that revolves full circle once an hour. Elevators zip visitors to the top in less than a minute. Round-trip fee is one dollar. The observation deck offers a breathtaking view of the city, Puget Sound and nearby mountains, capped by snow-thatched Mount Rainier. Reservations are recommended for the restaurant, which seats 220 and features international cuisine, along with the ever-changing panorama.

Getting down to earth, visitors will find the Fair's "Man in Space" theme transposed into reality, with exhibits depicting life in the year 2,000. Some forty other countries have joined the United States (which poured $9,000,000 into its Science Pavilion) in the lavish, imaginative presentations. Besides the U.S. science display, which is highlighted by a simulated "rocket ride" a billion light years into outer space, there are four other major exhibits:

The World of Century 21, eleven stories of glass and aluminum, houses tomorrow's products, such as a car without wheels, and tomorrow's community. The visitor reaches the latter by means of the "bubble-ator," a lift that carries 100 guests at a time to an overhead "floating city." Here, Century 21 will come to life. There is no admission charge.

The World of Commerce and Industry features product and service displays by domestic and international concerns, as well as by many governments. For example, American Telephone and Telegraph portrays communications of the future; General Electric provides a preview of electronic living in the next century; General Motors looks at tomorrow's autos, highways, and Standard Oil of California projects petroleum's role in the future. (No charge.)

The World of Art is a collection of treasures assembled by the museum directors from all corners of the globe. Among the paintings are works of Renoir, El Greco, Titian, Goya, Rembrandt, Cezanne and Braque. A contemporary exhibit (works since 1950) will be divided into sections for American and international artists. Also on had are examples of Northwest Indian art and gems from the Orient and the Middle East. The paintings alone are valued at more than $20,000,000. There is a fifty-cent admission charge.

The World of Entertainment offers never-ending presentations of top-caliber American and foreign performers from the fields of music, dance and drama. A typical sampling of the troupes on the program includes England's Old Vic Theatre, Thailand's Royal Dancers, and the Philippines' Bayanihan Folk Dance Company. Performances are held in the 3,100-seat Opera House, the 800-seat Playhouse, the 5,500-seat Arena and a 12,000-seat Stadium.

With the Space Needle and the five-major productions behind us, we find that we've only scratched the surface. While the children will be awed and delighted by everything they've seen thus far, they'll really think it's Christmas and birthday rolled into one when they get to the Gayway. (The parents, unless all vestiges of youth in their veins have been irrevocably calcified, will unquestionably concur.)

The Gayway offers a profusion of rides, some old, some new, but all exhilarating. Sample: the Le Mans ride, turnpike and sports car adventure; "Cortina Bobs," a simulated bobsled ride; a giant Sky Wheel. The Gayway also holds a block-square Food Circus, where the famished may indulge in all sorts of exotic snacks, ranging from a "hamburger sundae" to portions of the world's largest fruit cake.

The Boulevards of the World thread through the Fair exhibits, lined with shops and restaurants of many nations. In the center of the Fair grounds sits a mall, where a $250,000 fountain spouts displays of "water sculpture" reaching up to 100 feet.

As staunch adherents to the old saw that the best things are left to last (and also because there has been such a flood of publicity connected with this project), we'll wind up our superficial Fair tour with a word about the Monorail. This preview of tomorrow's mass transit system is a streamlined train on an overhead single rail that connects downtown Seattle with the Fair grounds. The spectacular Monorail, which can carry 10,000 passengers an hour, covers the just-over-a-mile run in about ninety seconds. Round-trip fare is seventy-five cents for adults and fifty cents for the offspring. There is also an "on-site" Monorail circling the Fair grounds to allow visitors to decide which "World" to enter first.

Admissions to the Fair ("Ticket to Tomorrow") run two dollars for an adult and one-ten for a child under thirteen. Adult bonus books for ten dollars include two admissions, four amusement rides, two performing arts events, two fine arts admissions and one official exposition guidebook. Children's bonus books are also available.

(Don't get impatient, men. We'll soon be heading for the finest fishing, hunting and boating country in the world.)

In order to help tourists with Fair accommodations, Seattle has set up Expo-Lodging as a clearing house for space. All hotels and motels with forty rooms or more are participating in the program. Daily rates range from five to fourteen dollars for one person; seven to seventeen for two; and nine to twenty-two for twin-bedded rooms. Trailer park spaces, dormitories (for groups only) and camping facilities are also available. Reservations or inquiries should be sent to Expo-Lodging, Incorporated, Seattle World's Fair, 312 First Ave. North, Seattle 9, Washington. Exact arrival and departure dates must be specified for reservations.

The Fair folk have also taken steps to prevent any unnecessary detours for exposition-bound motorists. On U.S. Highway 10 from the east, and U.S. 99 from north and south, the three major access routes to the city, Hospitality Centers have been set up to greet the visitors. Information, directions and parking spaces are available at the centers, and buses leave regularly from here for the Fair.

It's fair to say, at this point, that Seattle, with or without the Fair, is one of the most beautiful cities in North America, if not in the world. Blessed by a temperate climate, the city's 200 miles of waterfront, nearby lakes and mountains, make it a prime vacation destination. Four scenic drives that criss-cross the city proper and the suburbs are clearly marked for motorists by blue and green trident signs that are spaced at three- to eight-block intervals along city streets. The recommended routes vary from twenty-one to thirty-eight miles, and the Chamber of Commerce advises modestly that you take them all if you have the time.

Drive One encompasses Woodland Park (this is a city of lovely woods and spectacular flower beds), views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, several salt-water parks, the locks, the fishing fleet and the Fair. Drive Two winds through Volunteer Park, along Portage Bay to the University of Washington and Green Lake. Drive Three features Lake Washington, the Floating Bridge, Seward Park, the University of Washington Arboretum and, at a leisurely pace, a cruise of the lakeside parkway. Drive Four, the longest, offers fine views of the bay, the Sound, the Boeing plant, Alki Beach and Lincoln Park, and a comprehensive swing through residential areas.

Other worthwhile stops include downtown Seattle, with an expanding, big-city skyline (the Greater Seattle area has about 1,250,000 residents); Pike Place Market, a colorful maze of booths for truck farmers; an Oriental section, with excellent restaurants and shops; a fascinating waterfront; nine picturesque bridges; the locks and ship canal (there's a daily cruise for tourists during the warm-weather months); numerous beaches, most of them with park, picnic grounds and bathhouses, and a wide selection of lovely parks (3,500 acres), with hiking and riding trails, tennis courts, swimming pools, bowling greens, horseshoe courts, ball fields and archery ranges.

Just north of the State of Washington lies the Canadian province of British Columbia, a vast region about the size of California, Washington and Oregon combined. Distinguished by beautiful scenery, charming cities and towns, superb boating, fishing and hunting, superior accommodations (2,200 visitor residences are approved by the B.C. Tourist Bureau), and a profusion of national parks and ultra-modern highways. British Columbia is easily reached from Seattle by two major routes.

One of them is a four-hour car-ferry ride to Victoria; the other is along scenic U.S. 99 (later Highway 99) to Vancouver. American citizens need only proof of citizenship to cross the border. Canadian customs must be apprised of rifles, shotguns or fishing tackle being carried in by tourists. Revolvers, pistols and fully automatic firearms are prohibited. Each province has its own hunting and fishing laws, and full details may be obtained from Fish and Game Branch, 567 Burrard Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Victoria is British Columbia's capital and its second-largest city (Vancouver ranks first in size) and is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, which nestles lengthwise between Canada proper and the Pacific. Vancouver (the city) is on of the mainland and to the north of Victoria. Car-ferry service links the two cities.

A city of gardens, Victoria is a quaint mixture of British and frontier influences. Highlights include the old-fashioned Empress Hotel, the Parliament Buildings, the Butchart Gardens, the Provincial Museum, the Royal London Wax Museum and some fine shops for woolens, blankets and china. It is also a jumping-off place for (freshwater) seven or eight varieties of trout, char and bass; and (salt-water) Spring salmon and Cohoe salmon. Boat rentals, equipment and accommodations are available the full length of the 175-mile-long island, which is pockmarked by covers and fjords, glacial lakes, Indian villages, snow-capped mountains and virgin forests.

Ferry service from Victoria to Vancouver takes about three hours. Or, the motorist can take a scenic seventy-mile drive to Nanaimo, a typical frontier town of the Canadian West, and take a ferry to Vancouver in two and a-half hours.

With its world-famous harbor, Vancouver is probably the most cosmopolitan of Canada's West Coast cities. Beaches and gardens, cricket matches, scarlet-coated Royal Mounted Police and striking scenery, Vancouver is a potpourri of excitement and visual beauty. Sightseeing highlights include Chinatown, the University of British Columbia, Stanley Park, Burrard Bridge to Marine Drive, the historic Fraser River, the homes and gardens of Shaughnessy Heights, the Arboretum at Queen Elizabeth Park, the suspension bridge over the Capilano River, the Lions Gate Bridge, Mount Seymour and a fjord cruise from Deep Cove to Wigwam Inn.

From Vancouver, the highways fan out north and east to thousands of lakes, dozens of national parks, majestic mountain ranges--a never-ending vista of scenic adventures. Modern service stations, regular radio reports on road conditions and spic-and-span accommodations in all price ranges make driving through this part of the world a memorable experience.

The fist that crowd British Columbia's lakes, rivers and coastal waters include three species of trout, as many of char, and five kinds of salmon. For the hunters, there are moose, caribou, deer, sheep and goat, as well as grizzly and black and brown bears. Duck, geese, grouse and pheasant all have their seasons. Rodeos and roundups are great spectator sports.

Besides Vancouver Island, where we've already been, the province has a number of other well-known vacation areas. These include the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast, the Lower Fraser Valley, the Kanloops Country, the Caribou Country, the Okanagan Valley, the Kootenays, Central British Columbia and Peace River. They're all worthwhile and easy to reach.

For a colorful selection of literature about a vacation in British Columbia, write to the province's Government Travel Bureau, Department of Recreation and Conservation, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Whether you start off in B.C. or Boston and wind up in Seattle and the World's Fair, we would like to voice a final thought. Children are wonderful, but once in a while, the parents deserve a vacation. In this spirit, the Fair authorities have set up a supervised play area, where one may deposit Junior for a small fee.

Happy motoring.

This column originally appeared in Argosy magazine.

Copyright 1962-2010 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.