Holiday Train Show returns to the New York Botanical Garden

Follow the light up to the Bronx.

After the sun sets in the city, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory glows from inside.

“It’s also beautiful during the day, but during the night, everything is lit and everything glows so you get a different perspective,” the New York Botanical Garden’s Joanna Groarke told amNewYork, as the institution readies for the Saturday opening of its annual Holiday Train Show.

Now in its 27th year, the show provides visitors with a look at many of New York City’s 306 square miles of skyscrapers and historic buildings all at one site. 

G-scale locomotives run on half a mile of track that weaves through the NYC model that’s built with twigs, branches and leaves.

Some buildings are made from “a variety of scaled branches, seeds, pistachio shells and more,” said Groarke, who is the NYBG’s director of public engagement and library exhibitions curator. 

This year, the spotlight shines on lower Manhattan, with new additions to the skyline like One World Trade Center and the Battery Maritime Building. Staten Island ferries will also dot the cityscape.

The artist and creative mind behind the exhibit, Paul Busse, was first commissioned to work on the train show in 1992. Graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in landscape architecture, he combined his skills along with his fascination with garden railways to start his own company called Applied Imagination and has been working on shows across the country since then.

The 175 iconic buildings and structures, which include the Brooklyn Bridge and Yankee Stadium, are all about eye level for kids, but the bridges are built high enough that all visitors can walk under them. With activities including live music, poetry and adults-only bar nights, it’s not hard to see why the event attracted more than a quarter of a million visitors last year. 

Still, it’s the marvelous models that inspire most. Groarke’s favorite building has always been Penn Station.

“There’s a combination of buildings that no longer exist and some that are present now, but this is the historic Penn Station that sort of inspired the preservation movement,” she said.

If you go: The Holiday Train Show runs Saturday through Jan. 21 at the New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, nybg.org

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