Model Trains

NYBG Train Show

I was driving back from our weekend away to Hudson Valley to bring in the New Year, and made a game time decision to stop by the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. It has been on my list of things to do forever as the Bronx just seems like a trek in the winter by Metro North (public transport) from Grand Central, so it was really nice to be able to drive there instead.

I was researching the cost of tickets for the Train Show and found out that these tickets are actually free as a Member. Given I like to visit the New York Botanical Garden for their Orchid Show every year as well, which is in the spring, I decided to sign up as a Member for a year as the membership will cover the tickets for both shows and pretty much pays for itself.

NYBG was partially lit up as their Glow show was not on when I visited, though I could see the light installations all along the way to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory for the Holiday Train Show. Here are some photos from my walk to the show.

The entrance was very festive and bright, and very obviously child friendly with the row of strollers parked outside.

Stepping inside was like entering a miniature New York with over 190 landmarks recreated using natural materials, with 25 trains criss crossing over half a mile of track through these landmarks, including bridges above us. All the reviews I have read don’t do it justice, though I was happy to be visiting when there were no long lines to take it all in.

Macy’s Store at the Holiday Train Show

The show started with a Macy’s replica right at the entrance with a train running around it.

Coney Island at the Holiday Train Show

Stepping inside introduced us to Coney Island on a long table with trains circling the landmarks, and then a train running on the bridge above.

Grand Central and Penn Station Replicas

We were then introduced to Grand Central and Penn Station. The detailing on each was amazingly accurate, and where better to see trains than running through these two NYC landmarks. The model of Penn Station is one of the largest buildings in the Holiday Train Show at 20 sq ft.

Kykuit Estate Replica

We then moved on to Kykuit, which is the Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills from 1913. We got to see behind the curtain in this one as there was a description of all the materials used in its making, and two versions of this, one with just the base and the second with all the final details.

Model Train Scales

I learnt that model railroads are available in a range of scales, and all the models in this exhibition are G-scale, which is large and durable enough to run outdoors. Luckily everything was indoors so we didn’t have to brave the cold for the show.

New York Landmarks at the Holiday Train Show

Now came my favorite part of the Train Show as the rest of the models were not exhibited on tables anymore, but within the plans inside the Conservatory. It was amazing to see all the NYC landmarks that I know well, such as St Patrick’s Cathedral, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, World Trade Center etc, and to realize how much there is to learn about so many other landmarks that I am not familiar with. Here are some of the ones that are very familiar and recognizable. The level of detail is just astonishing. And don’t miss the Occulus at the base of the WTC.

The New York landscape would not be complete without Lady Liberty, and here she is in all her glory.

The trains don’t translate as well in the pictures, so here is a video compilation of some of them at the Holiday Train Show –

The path was lined on both sides with houses stacked one after the other, some better lit than others, each one worthy of attention both with and without the trains crossing them.

Yankee Stadium Replica

And here is Yankee Stadium –

Met Museum Replica

And the Met –

Central Park at the Holiday Train Show

I then stumbled upon a whole section that was Central Park, which I loved! Each of these places is one that I like to visit often, and to see them represented in the Holiday Train Show was special.

TWA Hotel Replica

This is the TWA Hotel at JFK!

Bridges at the Show

And here are some of the bridges that had trains running above us –

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Replica

I have so many photographs still to go, but I think it is best experienced in person beyond this. But I cannot end without the grand finale, which was a model of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the NYBG which was absolutely stunning. While the original dome is about 90 ft tall to accomodate all the palms that it houses, the replica is made up of resin and reeds to create the window panes, and comes in at just under three feet.

I suspect I will be going for this show more often now that I have figured out what it is all about, and now that I have an annual membership to get me in for the next show as well!


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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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