The New York Botanical Garden is an iconic living museum and, since its founding in 1891, has served as an oasis in this busy metropolis.
As a National Historic Landmark, this 250-acre site’s verdant landscape supports over one million living plants in extensive collections. Each year more than one million visitors enjoy the Garden not only for its remarkable diversity of tropical, temperate, and desert flora, but also for programming that ranges from renowned exhibitions in the Haupt Conservatory to festivals on Daffodil Hill.
The Garden is also a major educational institution. More than 300,000 people annually—among them Bronx families, school children, and teachers—learn about plant science, ecology, and healthful eating through NYBG’s hands-on, curriculum-based programming. Nearly 90,000 of those visitors are children from underserved neighboring communities, while more than 3,000 are teachers from New York City’s public school system participating in professional development programs that train them to teach science courses at all grade levels.
NYBG operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs, with nearly 200 staff members—including 80 Ph.D. scientists—working in the Garden’s state-of-the-art molecular labs as well as in the field, where they lead programs in 49 countries.
The year 2016 marks the 125th Anniversary of the founding of The New York Botanical Garden.
After hustling it all over New York during my first week, I decided to have a quiet Sunday and grab the Metro North train from Grand Central station and check out the New York Botanical Garden. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday away from a busy city and some relaxed time in nature.
I made a point to inhale the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory which houses tropical and desert plants. I took my time walking through the space which was humid, damp and laden with a quilt of chirpy plants all dewy in their presentation. The space is beautifully laid out and perfect for the whole family. There are quiet nooks for you to sit down and take everything and friendly staff to answer questions.
I sipped my tea as I made my way over to the forest on the property. This experience proved to be the most therapeutic experience on my trip. Resembling that of Kew Gardens in England – the sleepy trees, a well maintained path, a rose garden, streams, a bridge and quiet respites made me feel at ease and welcoming of the peaceful quiet. I took a moment to stand in a pile of fallen Fall leaves and make a memory for when my work week get’s me down. NYBG is brimming with memory postcards and I was sure to snap them all up like collector cards.
Once I felt the Zen washing over me, I made my way over to the piece de resistance for the holiday season, The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show®. It is a beloved New York City tradition and it enters its 25th year with the exhibition’s first roller coaster. The Coney Island Cyclone will join NYBG’s collection of more than 150 replicas of New York buildings that are all made out of plant parts and enlivened by large-scale model trains. The Holiday Train Show opens to the public on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and runs through Monday, January 16, 2017.
In addition to the famous Cyclone, new this year are Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel (complete with LED sign) and the Elephantine Colossus, a gigantic elephant-shaped hotel from the 1890s. The Holiday Train Show already features several Coney Island structures, including the Galveston Flood Building, the Luna Park Arch, the Luna Park Central Tower, and the Luna Park Ticket Booth. All of the collection’s Coney Island models will be displayed in the Reflecting Pool of the Palms of the World Gallery in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This year the 30-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge will be relocated to the Palms Gallery, completing the Brooklyn scene. The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge will also make its exhibition debut.
In the Holiday Train Show, more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys will hum along nearly a half mile of track past re-creations of iconic sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, The New York Public Library, and Radio City Music Hall. Artistically crafted by Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination, all of the New York landmarks—which include Hudson River Valley houses and other buildings from New York State as well—are made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruits, seeds, and pine cones. American steam engines, streetcars from the late 1800s, and modern freight and passenger trains ride underneath overhead trestles, through tunnels, and across rustic bridges and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Thomas the Tank Engine™ and other beloved trains disguised as large colorful insects delight children as they zoom by.
The next time you are in New York – push yourself to get outside of the bubble of the city and take the trip to the Bronx. The New York Botanical Garden will make everything right in one visit.