New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show returns for 26th year

Some of midtown’s iconic skyscrapers are being recreated in the Bronx for the 2017 Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden.

The show, in its 26th year, offers newly made replicas — constructed from plant-based materials — of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings and St. Bartholomew’s Church, along with more than 150 other past and present New York landmarks and locations.

Every year, the event focuses on a different area of the city. This year, it’s midtown. But that doesn’t mean other locations are neglected. Nearly a half-mile of track in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will have G-scale trains chugging over the Brooklyn Bridge, for example.

These mini modern marvels inspire visitors to reminisce about memories at places such as Yankee Stadium and the Statue of Liberty.

“I think that people come and want to see things that remind them of their sort of New York moment,” said Karen Daubmann, New York Botanical Garden’s associate vice president for exhibitions and public engagement.

The show also reflects upon the city’s legacy. Along with existing museums and institutions, there are such once-standing buildings as a replica of the original Pennsylvania Station, whose demolition in the 1960s is often credited with sparking the nation’s architectural preservation movement.

Built by Kentucky-based Applied Imagination, which creates model railway installations for botanical gardens across the country, each piece of this year’s masterpiece is made of plant-based elements such as bark, twigs, stems and seeds. The dome atop the replica of St. Bartholomew’s Church, for example, consists of a single gourd.

Applied Imagination has collaborated with the holiday show since its inception. The partnership sprouted when a relative of a botanical garden administrator happened upon a magazine article about the company.

Pre- and post-event, their creations are stored in a botanical garden warehouse, where each year they are taken out and inspected for necessary repairs before being assembled again.

“There is something fascinating about New York City for the holidays,” said Daubmann, “and to see it in miniature inside Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, it feels like a snow globe moment.”

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