New York City Landmarks Created From Nature

January 2, 2011 by

Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Amid the glimmer and twinkle of tiny lights, G-scale model trains chug along a half-mile of track circling 140 miniature landmark buildings constructed entirely of natural materials including, bark, twigs, seeds, fruits, nuts, vines, mosses, and leaves.

Sense of scale: Tracks and foliage up close. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Housed in the spectacular domed steel and glass Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, an architectural icon itself, The New York Botanical Garden’s annual Holiday Train Show is a seasonal tradition for families from New York and beyond.

Conservatory’s glass dome above George Washington Bridge replica. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Twig replicas of the city’s bridges, including the George Washington and the famed Brooklyn Bridge, are represented along with the Art Deco skyscrapers that define the city’s skyline, the Empire State and The Chrysler Buildings.

Washington Square Park Arch. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Favorites include the Statue of Liberty,  the original Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Penn Station, and some of the city’s most elegant Hudson River mansions.

The lady herself. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Galveston Flood Buidling. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

The landmark replicas are created by award-winning designer Paul Busse, who each year adds something new to historic collection. This year, the classic Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal at JFK airport finds a place among other storied classics.

TWA Terminal. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Although most are from New York City, some are famed landmark estates from the Hudson Valley including the Rockefeller Kykuit estate and the Gothic Revival Lyndhurst estate.

Lyndhurst Mansion. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Rockefeller’s Hudson Valley Kykuit Estate. Photo by Robin Plaskoff Horton

Busse installed his first model railroad at the Ohio State Fair in 1982. His interest in garden railroads stems from his training in botanical architecture and his personal love of trains. Busse and his team design and build the elements of each garden railway at his studio, Applied Imagination, in Alexandria, Kentucky.

Paul Busse, the show’s designer. Photo from Applied Imagination.


  1. Georgia said:

    A Human Flower Project!
    Have you heard of the site?

    — January 2, 2011 @ 22:04

  2. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks Georgia, I took a look at The Human Flower Project. There are some cool sites out there for sharing photos. Send us some of yours!

    — January 3, 2011 @ 10:45

  3. Annie Haven said:

    What a wonderful share and tour through the miniature garden city. Your spectacular photos gave me a glimpse as to what a passenger would be viewing as they clipped on long on the tiny train. It would be fun to take that train ride!

    — January 3, 2011 @ 12:55

  4. Amy said:

    Wonderful photos and a great post Robin. This exhibition is an annual holiday pilgrimage for me and my family.

    — January 4, 2011 @ 09:52

  5. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks Amy! I would love to try my hand at building something using these materials.Hey, what about an edible architectural monument?

    — January 5, 2011 @ 14:20

  6. wholesale charms said:

    You have posted such great photos. I would love to have these materials for my wholesale jewelry supplies. You are really great and have a brilliant idea.

    — October 14, 2012 @ 22:27

  7. Visions of an Urban Holiday Season - Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […]  Annual Holiday Train Show, New York Botanical Garden. […]

    — December 25, 2015 @ 09:30

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