08 December 2008

A Visit to the Holiday Train Show

I went to the New York Botanical Garden's annual Holiday Train Show for the first time this year—something I've long wanted to do. I always expected that the model trains would simply pass through a kind of fairytale village, albeit on a very large scale. I had no idea that the buildings in question were near exact replicas of New York City and New York State landmarks. Everything from Grand Central and the Empire State to Brooklyn brownstones and the Old Stone House, all jumbling up in some condensed, highly forested version of the metropolis. The Brooklyn, George Washington, Manhattan and Hell Gate bridges tower above.

As this Dec. 5 New York Times article indicates, all the structures are made from organic materials—things that might be found in a botanical garden. Among them: elm bark, alder cones, cloves, gourds, date vines, acorns, palm leaves, grasses, black locust shelf fungi, willow, canella berries, pine bark, walnut shells, okra pods, bamboo, cedar bark, oak, hickory, black walnut, eastern red cedar, sugar-pine-cone scales. They are created by landscape designer Paul Busse, and include famous mansions further upstate.

A number of buildings were new this year, such as the old Merchant's House of Greenwich Village, seen above, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, below.

No landmark was too big or too small for commemoration. Above is St. Patrick's Cathedral. And here is the Little Red Lighthouse.

The show also has, somewhat eerily, several buildings that don't exist anymore, including the below theatre, once on 46th Street, and a Fifth Avenue mansion (further below) that was torn down in the 20s. There also are a few bygone Coney Island artifacts.


Jazz 88's said...

I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago, after a search for Tin Pan Alley. As a 50-year-old native New Yorker now living in Virginia Beach (a lovely city, by the way), I'm really enjoying these snapshots of old Gotham. Please keep it up! And while you're at it, don't forget the St. George area of Staten Island, around the ferry terminal.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks Jazz 88's, I will.

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