Karl Lauby helped turn the New York Botanical Garden into one of the city’s most sought after destinations.
Now after 23 years of feeding the media tidbits about the 250 acres of horticultural treasure that have excited and enticed millions of visitors to the Gardens major exhibit’s, including the holiday train show going on now until January 6, Lauby will be passing over the reins of the Garden’s public relations department to his capable staff.
As the crowd bustled around him at the Holiday Train Show in the garden’s Enid A. Haupt conservatory, featuring model trains running through and around replicas of 140 buildings and bridges made entirely from plans, Lauby remembered when he first started in July 1987.
The media landscape was different, he said, and there were more magazine outlets for stories about gardening and horticulture.
Surrounded by replicas of Poe Cottage, Yankee Stadium, and Bartow-Pell Mansion, Lauby said that there was just one thing that could possibly be a highlight of his time at the Garden.
“The big highlight is having had the opportunity to put the spotlight on such a wonderful institution and make it even more famous,” Lauby said. “What I will miss the most is seeing visitors in these kinds of exhibitions, and doing all of the media that is tied to exhibits like the train show.”
Lauby recalled that the Garden has seen “a two-decade renaissance,” as its staff has developed exhibits and programs that appealed to a wide range of people. Part of that has to do with generating revenue from gate admissions, he said, while at the same time expanding the base of garden supporters by appealing to visitors from all walks of life.
Lauby was proud of the fact that except for a short stint at CBS, he has held only two jobs throughout the course of his career.
He was an employee at the Better Business Bureau, rising to the executive level, for 15 years. For two years at CBS he worked at different places around the company, including the popular 60 Minutes program and Channel 2 news. He will remain on the job at the New York Botanical Garden until the end of December.
He will enjoy a retirement that will include renovating several 100-year-old homes he owns, woodworking, and transferring his late wife’s classical musical performances to digital recordings so he can preserve them for his daughter.