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 Saturday, November 21, with familiar favorites from seasons past and a spectacular addition 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 10, 2010.
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 dozens of replicas of historic New York landmarks since the show’s inception at the Botanical Garden 18 years ago. More than 100 of those model landmarks, from museums and mansions to ballparks and bridges, will be displayed in this season’s edition of the show.
The original Pennsylvania Station (1910 – 1963), this year’s blockbuster addition to the Holiday Train Show, “could be our most exciting building yet” according to Paul Busse. The reincarnation of this major railroad hub will certainly be one of the most appropriate ever for the show, which is acclaimed not only for the model trains, but also for the historic and architectural significance of the New York buildings and structures represented. Six artists on Mr. Busse’s team have constructed his meticulously detailed replica of the building, which when it was built at West 34th Street and Eighth Avenue nearly a century ago, was greatly lauded for its Beaux Arts architecture. In his design of the replica, Mr. Busse scaled down the original Penn Station’s approximate eight-acre span to be about four feet by five feet—and to fit into the Conservatory, which itself houses an acre of plants under glass. The elaborate botanical interpretation even features Penn Station’s “Grand Concourse”, set
two feet above the replica’s street level, and a cutaway view to the train tracks beneath the station with a shuttling passenger train.
Pennsylvania Station was controversially demolished 46 years ago to make way for the fourth incarnation of Madison Square Garden. Its demolition is considered to have been the catalyst for the enactment of New York City’s first architectural preservation statutes.
Also new to this year’s Holiday Train Show will be a rendition of the Brooks Brothers flagship located at 346 Madison Avenue at 44th Street in Manhattan. Founded in 1818 by Henry Sands Brooks as the first ready-to-wear fashion emporium in America, Brooks Brothers is the country’s oldest clothing retailer and its flagship store is a New York icon.
The Pennsylvania Station and Brooks Brothers building replicas will be placed among recreations of other 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.
Although the landmark replicas could stand alone as a museum-quality exhibition, the model railway trains are also superstars in the Holiday Train Show. More than one dozen of these large-scale, so called “garden-gauge” trains, representative of American trains, from late-1800s steam engines and streetcars to whimsical ladybugs and circus cars to modern freight and high-speed passenger trains, traverse over bridges, under waterfalls, around mountains, and through tunnels to the delight of kids from 1 to 92.
The holiday season at the Botanical Garden offers activities for the whole family. Children can enjoy Gingerbread Adventures in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Holiday Puppet Theater presentations of The Little Engine That Could TM in the Arthur and Janet Ross Lecture Hall, and visits with Thomas the Tank Engine TM on the Garden grounds.
During the Holiday Train Show regular Botanical Garden hours will be 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday. The Garden will have extended hours, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., on select Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays and during Christmas week: November 27, 28, 29, December, 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and January 1, 2, 3, 9, 10. The Garden will be open on Thanksgiving Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Garden will close at 3 p.m. on December 4 and 24 and will be closed all day on Christmas Day. Advance timed tickets may be purchased online at www.nybg.org beginning November 2. Check the Garden’s Web site to plan your visit.