Designs, Travels

A Holiday Spectacular in NYC

I’ve waited all winter for it to be summer. But now that summer’s here and temperatures are reaching nearly 100 F (40 C), I can’t seem to get my mind off of Christmas and snow.

I was thus led down memory lane to last year’s rendition of the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.

Every winter since 1992, the NYBG has hosted the dazzling display of more than 100 greater New York City landmarks constructed from natural materials – dried leaves, twigs, shells, etc – tucked among the flora and fauna of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Intended to draw in the whole family, size G model trains wheeze past the buildings and overhead on bridges – from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Washington Bridge and back around on the Manhattan Bridge (just to name a few) – all meticulously built to scale.

While the exhibit is open during the regular daytime hours, I’ve always felt that the best time to visit is in the evening hours after the sun passes below the horizon. As it settles into darkness outside, the lights on the buildings flicker on.

Suddenly the space is inundated with magical possibilities.


The soft shadows brings alive the sublime detailing.

It recalls to mind elements of the arts and crafts movement – but with a singularly delightful twist into the miniature.

It’s as if you fell down the rabbit hole and was transported into a parallel universe of fantastical creations.

And lines blur between illusion and reality.

Last year’s centerpiece centered on lower Manhattan and featured a new addition to the collection.

A beacon of hope shining through the darkness, surrounded by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A reminder that no matter what the travails, this country of vagabond immigrants always stands tall and strong.

Though it’s only June, I’m already starting to count down the days until this year’s show. I wonder what surprises it’ll hold…

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