Model train landscape features historic Queens icons

By Joe Anuta

Captivated children and curious adults got to see landmarks from all over the city last week without having to leave Whitestone.

Dan Naimoli, a landscape architect from the neighborhood, unveiled a miniature version of St. Mels School in Flushing, St. Luke’s in Whitestone, Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Bridge and even the completed Freedom Tower at his third annual model train exhibit, which was held in the basement of the actual St. Mels, at 154-24 26th Ave.

“I enjoy taking nothing and making something,” said Naimoli, who with the help of two others also built a mini replica of Nonna’s Pizzeria in Whitestone, a building in the Queens Botanical Garden and several aesthetically pleasing homes from Park Slope.

Naimoli said he is a fan of architecture and takes photos of buildings he likes for inspiration to recreate them in miniature from using foamboard and sometimes a bamboo plywood called Plyboo.

The exhibit featured four trains on four tracks that wound through the structures, verdant hillsides and over tiny bodies of water. Naimoli had almost completed versions of the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges, but they were not ready in time for the show.

After Naimoli covered some expenses, the admission fee of $10 per adult and $5 for children older than 2 went toward the Make a Wish Foundation, a national charity that specializes in granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Next year, Naimoli plans to make it bigger and better, with 15 more buildings added to the mix. He will begin going out and taking photos and then drawing up blueprints sometime in 2012.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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