All aboard The Golden Gate Express for a San Francisco experience like no other! The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park brings back its enormously popular garden railway exhibition this winter with many new features and surprises created by local garden railroad aficionados and artists from SF Recycling & Disposal, Inc.’s Artist in Residence program. It’s a celebration of the city of San Francisco as a model train, cable car, streetcar and more wend their way through a lush landscape of dwarf plants and zip past mini versions of the city’s landmark buildings created entirely from recycled materials. New this year also are some only-in-San Francisco special effects including the sounds of the city and the twice-daily arrival of the fog.
The Golden Gate Express will be on display until April 18, 2010. We saw it today and it’s amazing. The creativity displayed in the types of recycled materials they used; the various effects, including the fog twice per day; and the way it flows so well together to make it a work of art like nothing I’ve ever seen.
This year’s display has a plethora of new things to see – one that features a G-gauge train modeled after an historic San Francisco locomotive looping through the cityscape, a cable car ascending a San Francisco hill, a streetcar and miniature cars zooming across the Golden Gate Bridge. This year’s all-new, dynamic design is being created by the members of the Bay Area Garden Railway Society (BAGRS). With over 300 members that have created more than 1000 layouts in backyards around the Bay Area since 1988, BAGRS is the largest club of its kind in the world with more outdoor railroads than anywhere else.
Many of the club’s members came to last year’s exhibit, designed by model train enthusiast and Professor of Landscape Architecture at UC Berkeley Chip Sullivan, and were highly enthusiastic about continuing the exhibit as an annual event. Chief among those was BAGRS past President and the author of the definitive book How to Design and Build Your Garden Railroad, Jack Verducci of San Mateo. “This is a chance for us to share our passion and create something lots of people can see,” he says. “Most of our railroads are at our homes and not so accessible. At the Conservatory, we’ll be able to bring this great family hobby to everyone and hopefully get them excited about trying it themselves.”
Verducci promises a lay out with lots of fun features including bridges, tunnels, California specific landscaping and even a change in the weather. At 11:15 AM and 4:15 PM each day, San Francisco’s famous fog will roll in under the Golden Gate and envelop the mini city in mystery. In addition to the new layout, several new miniature San Francisco landmarks join the eleven buildings that were fabricated last year. Debuting this year will be San Francisco’s City Hall, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Castro Theater, the Painted Ladies, Lotta’s Fountain, the California
Academy of Science’s Living Roof, AT&T Park and historic Firehouse #37 built in Potrero Hill in 1917. The new landmarks, like last year’s Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden pagoda, Golden Gate Bridge, Mission Dolores, Chinatown Gate, Transamerica Pyramid, Ferry Building, Coit Tower, Ghirardelli Square, Bently Reserve and Merchant Exchange Building, will be made entirely of recycled and repurposed materials, reflecting present day San Francisco’s cutting edge commitment to sustainability and the Conservatory’s own environmental mission.
Special thanks to the media contact at the Conservatory, Nina Sazevich.