Image by Geoffrey Dunbar

The Red Caboose – Model train shop

Two things I’d like to have again in my life is a cat and a model train. But I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so no cat, no train.

Instead, I go to this model train shop in New York to peruse and reminisce. Before I got my childhood Lionel, I dreamed about an HO layout. Here, they’ve got both, and other scales I’ve never heard of.

Of the only two New York shops remaining (that I’ve heard of), the Red Caboose on West 45th Street has one landmark: the constant sound of a train whistle marks the proximity of the front door. You’ll hear it before you see it: behind the hard to spot doorway, opening onto a hallway, then a narrow stairway down to the basement is the shop so packed with stuff, your puffy jacket might be an obstruction.

The boss, Al Spitz, and his assistant, the Professor, banter, bicker, yell at each other and sometimes at customers. It reminds me of an old NY delicatessen.

Another shop, Trainworld, is out on Long Island with a warehouse in Brooklyn. I’ve been to Brooklyn too, but it has been reconfigured and is less a showoff than its other location.

I rarely pass an old-style toy store without going in because there are so few left.

And check the photo above: those are HO scale inhabitants of your model train’s village red light district. Other similar figures and positions available. No kidding.

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Details about this spot



23 W. 45th St, New York

Telephone number


Opening Times

Mon - Fri 11:00 - 19:00, Sat 11:00 - 17:00


Figurines: US$ 20


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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)