December 18 2009 by Karla Henriquez
I recently made my annual trip to see New York City at its holiday best, in miniature, at the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show. Now through January 10, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory houses replicas of New York landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Penn Station and Yankee Stadium with model trains zooming along behind and in front of them on more than a quarter mile of track.
The replicas are made from natural materials like twigs, leaves, acorns, and pomegranates. Historic New York homes are carefully landscaped with moss and other tiny greenery. Visitors get to walk under the Brooklyn Bridge, built from sugar pinecones and lit with tiny lights - I'm not sure if it's more romantic to walk on the actual bridge or under this replica.
This year, we took my brother's family to the train show. All the kids were interested in the whole event - the little houses, the colorful trains, and even the plants that live in the conservatory year-round. I had a hard time getting a picture of my daughter in front of anything because she kept turning around to look at the trains. They fascinated her. My three-year-old niece was dying to touch the little houses - did the doors and windows open? Were there little people inside? She couldn't get enough. The tween and teen boys wondered if everything was built to scale and they wanted to know why some of these buildings had been demolished. They thought it would have been so cool to be able to see them. The adults were mostly amazed by the craftsmanship involved as well as the time and effort it must take every year to set up the display - how is everything preserved and stored?
We were at the show on Thanksgiving weekend, so there was a bit of a crowd. As the end of the year nears, I believe it gets even busier, especially on weekends. Whenever you go, try to purchase tickets in advance and plan to spend some time at the gardens since your admission to the show allows you to access the whole park. As for what time of day is best to see the show? I'm not sure - last year we went at night and it was very romantic with all the little lights in the trees and bushes and on the bridges. This year we went in the morning and it was easier to see and appreciate the details on the models - gargoyles, mossy roofs and textured columns. My suggestion is don't just go once - plan to see it by day and at night!