The holiday season is full of family traditions, and the Holiday Train Show is one of the most eagerly anticipated. The amazing display of New York landmark replicas created out of plant materials and enlivened by model trains returns to the New York Botanical Garden on Sunday, November 23, with familiar favorites from seasons past and some spectacular additions to enchant audiences anew. Beloved by people of all ages, the popular exhibition will be on display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory through January 11.
Using a multitude of diverse natural materials such as leaves, twigs, bark, berries, seeds, pine cones, gourds, and other botanical resources, Holiday Train Show designer Paul Busse and his team at Applied Imagination in Alexandria, Kentucky, have handcrafted more than 140 detailed replicas of historic New York landmarks since the show’s inception at the garden 17 years ago.
Although the actual, 85-year-old Yankee Stadium is scheduled for demolition beginning in winter 2008, the botanically interpreted replica of the “House that Ruth Built,” which was wildly received by visitors when it was added in 2005, will hold a place of honor in this year’s Holiday Train Show. With its outside wall made of horse chestnut bark, light towers of willow twigs and acorn tops, and potpourri fans in elm bark seats, the stadium mesmerizes visitors with sight and sound, as famous Yankee Stadium moments emanate from the replica.
New to this year’s Holiday Train Show will be renditions of the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, home of the famous Hayden Planetarium, and four structures in New York City’s Historic House Trust—Hendrick I. Lott House, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Old Stone House, and Merchant’s House Museum. These additions will be placed among recreations of other iconic New York sights such as: Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Radio City Music Hall—all made of plant parts.
Located on W. 81st Street, near Central Park West in Manhattan, the Rose Center for Earth and Space features many impressive architectural elements. The centerpiece is an 87-foot sphere that appears to float inside a 95-foot-tall “glass cube,” along with the planets in Earth’s solar system. The massive sphere houses “the world’s most technologically advanced star theater,” the Hayden Planetarium. Holiday Train Show enthusiasts eagerly await Busse’s replica, which is anticipated to spark the imagination almost as much as the real thing.
As the Historic Trust of New York City’s 20th anniversary celebration hits its mid-year swing, it will receive a congratulatory nod via the Holiday Train Show. Working in tandem with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the non-profit
organization’s mission is to provide essential support for houses of architectural and cultural significance spanning 350 years of New York City history. There are 22 Historic House Trust treasures, all of them situated within city parks and open to the public. With the additions of four replicas this year, most of them will have been displayed in the Holiday Train Show at some point during the exhibition’s 17-year history:
• Still standing in the same orientation on its original 1792 site, Hendrick I. Lott House at 1940 East 36th Street, Brooklyn, is a rare surviving Dutch-American house in New York City.
• The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in Central Park at 79th Street and West Drive, Manhattan, was designed as Sweden’s pavilion for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
• Originally built in 1699, Old Stone House on Fifth Avenue at Third Street, Brooklyn, was constructed of stone, with high brick gables and a tile roof. A shrine from the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776 and the summer home of the Brooklyn Baseball Club, later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1800s, it is a landmark in American military and sports history.
• Built in 1832 in the Bond Street area, just steps away from Washington Square, Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street, Manhattan, is an elegant red brick and white marble row house that was home to Seabury Tredwell, a prosperous merchant, and his family for 100 years.