Facts, trivia, of N.Y., D.C. at your fingertips
By Chris Oliver
Advertiser Travel Writer
Kids, take this quiz:
1. How long is the Statue of Liberty's nose?
2. Where can you see a bedroom once buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius?
3. Where was the first use of outdoor electricity?
4. Where can you book a seat on the Bengali Express Monorail?
5. Where will you find a 34-ton meteorite?
6. How many people can the White House state dining room seat?
7. Where can you see a Russian spy's shoe? (Answers are below.)
Parents: If you're heading to the Big Apple or the nation's capital, with the kids, you might want to take along the Fandex Family Field Guides (Workman Publishing Company, $9.95), an easy, colorful and fun way for the family to learn about where they're going.
Each guide celebrates the most visible and visited landmarks in a series of 50 cards with color illustrations plus hundreds of fun facts, maps, stories, statistics and trivia.
Example: In 1626 the tallest structure on the island of Manahattan was a two-story windmill soaring over New Amsterdam, a small fur trading post established by the Dutch West India Company. According to legend, Peter Minuit, director general of the Dutch colony, purchased Manahattan for $24 worth of goods from the Lenape Indians, longtime residents of the island. Lenapehoking, homeland of the Lenape, became New Amsterdam, which subsequently became New York.
Today, New York's tallest structure is the Empire State Building, with 102 stories. The city covers 300 square miles. Eight million people speak about 100 languages and practice as many religions.
"The guides are a good complement to what kids are learning in school," said Jennifer Griffin, editor at Workman Publishing Company in New York, which also publishes Brain Quest educational cards. "There's a huge amount of information here packed into a fun format. The guides look as if they're aimed at children, but there is plenty to interest adults."
Griffin said there are plans to publish family guides to more Mainland cities soon.
The Washington, D.C. field guide focuses mostly on the capital's museums with activities to make history come alive, such as this spooky idea the kids will love: At the International Spy Museum, visitors can crawl through an air vent to spy on other museum visitors. And because the exhibition halls are bugged, they can listen to their private conversations. Almost every type of spy paraphernalia is on display: bugs cameras, microdots and even an umbrella that can deliver a fatal shot of poison.
And this more somber experience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: The "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story" exhibit presents a young Jewish boy's experience during the Holocaust. At the museum, children can follow Daniel's life from his bright apartment to a dismal one-room ghetto apartment to the concentration camp from which he is ultimately rescued.
The cards will help to keep the kids entertained and are helpful for planning the next day's itinerary.
We had just one small quibble: Though the cards are sturdy, when fanned, they need careful realigning to keep them intact.
Fandex Family Field Guides are available for New York City and for Washington, D.C. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
1. 4'6" (the size of an average 9-year-old)
2. Metropolitan Museum
3. Bartholdi Fountain at the U.S. Capitol, in 1876
4. Bronx Zoo
5. Museum of Natural History
6. 130 people
7. International Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.