It seems fitting that the Guinness folks would pick New York City's Empire State Building for their new World Records Exhibit Hall, because that oldtime skyscraper held the record as the world's tallest for 39 years. The exhibit promises to become a strong year-round tourist attraction, with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space devoted to showing off all the mosts and bests, the smallests and biggests and worsts.
As a sort of exhibit within an exhibit, the Guinness World of Sports and Games features a lively collection of old and new movie footage with five-minute programs being shown in four booths. It is almost worth the price of admission ($1.50) to listen to the clusters of teen-agers in front of the screens, as they cheer their heroes, disparage their less-than-favorites and challenge each other's knowledge of sports lore. The movie that rates highest in spectator hysteria depicts Joe Namath in action, engendering arguments about the present state of his arm; the film also includes highlights of Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game and Lou Brock stealing bases in slow motion.
Another movie portrays Roger Bannister's four-minute mile, Wilt Chamberlain at Overbrook High, some smooth moves by Pelé and a slow-motion high jump by world-record holder Dwight Stones. (As an added touch, the exhibitors have installed a high-jump bar over the booth so that spectators can judge the height for themselves. And, to show they're up to date on their world records, they've moved it up to 7-7¼" from 7-7".) On yet another screen Paul Anderson breaks a weight-lifting record, Billie Jean King serves, Mark Spitz wins the 100-meter butterfly at Munich, Jack Nicklaus misses a putt and Babe Didrikson Zaharias throws a javelin, high jumps, hurdles, boxes and plays golf.
There are dozens of other exhibits, including a replica of the world's biggest (22 pounds) and meanest chicken.
Although the Guinness people promised more audience participation than they deliver, there are plenty of buttons to push and magnifiers to look through (e.g., the world's smallest violin). On Saturdays cameras are permitted, so visitors can be photographed lying on a bed of nails or standing next to a model of the world's tallest man.
He's not for sale, but one may buy the world's largest crossword puzzle for $3.95, and, naturally, the Guinness book.