Blog: Train Show
Typically a trip to midtown’s Grand Central Station is unglamorous- a walk to the main lobby to stare at a digital train schedule, perhaps the purchase of some food or a magazine, before heading to your track and boarding your train, and waiting to be taken home. Historically, it’s been a hub rather than a destination and for some, that might always be the case. But over the past few years, the Terminal has undergone a more modern overhaul, as once barren corridors have been replaced by some mid-to-high end retailers like Banana Republic, Tumi, Brooklyn Industries, and even a Financier. And slowly, the transit center has tried to transform itself into a center of commerce and entertainment, which perhaps has never been more evident than with the opening of this year’s Holiday Train Show.
The exhibit, which opened yesterday and runs through January 17, 2011, is not exactly grandiose- it sits in the New York Transit Museum’s Gallery Annex & Store. The walls are lined with different prized, historic model trains which feature how these collectibles have evolved over the years, some of which are as old as 1929. Brands like Lionel and the American Flyer Manufacturing Company are highlighted here in a visual timeline of model train designs.
But the main draw to the exhibit has to be the 30 foot long track representing every mode of rail transportation available in New York. From subway cars to Metro-North, Long Island Railroad to Pennsylvania Railroad designs- the long display portrays trains running from New York directly to the North Pole, with a large, bright Christmas tree right at the forefront of it all. With tall skyscrapers and snow covered mountains, the sheer detail put into the design is exhaustive. The model runs through a suburban area, then a bustling city, before settling atop the Pole, where predictably Saint Nick is waiting on the arrival of tourists to his hometown. The depiction of our city and the holiday spirit it brings is nothing short of spectacular, even for a small exhibit such as this one.
Yes, we understand that collectible trains are really geared to a certain niche, and will only be truly appreciated by hobby enthusiasts. We also understand that a trip into the New York Transit Museum may not be the ideal way to spice up a weekend night. But if you find yourself in midtown, either just wandering around or waiting for your train ride home, the display is eye-catching and is full of festive holiday spirit. This year’s Holiday Train Show is one of the many free sights worth taking a look at as the temperatures outside continue to drop and our collective calendar approaches 2011.
- Jane Van Arsdale