Posts Tagged ‘Penn Station destruction’

One of the last remnants of the old Penn Station

October 16, 2017

Looking at old photos of Penn Station can make any New Yorker weep.

The 1963 bulldozing of this pink granite emblem of the city has been described as a “monumental act of vandalism.”

The Doric columns fronting Seventh Avenue dismantled, the Roman Baths–inspired waiting room demolished, and interior touches from handrails to ticket booths mostly carted away to landfills.

Remnants do remain, though (like the Eagle statues outside the current station), with one critical piece of Penn Station still located across 31st Street, where it sits anonymous and forlorn.

It’s the Penn Station Service Building (above), which housed the power plant that fed electricity to the train engines that navigated the tunnels to and from the city.

In the top photo of Penn Station’s exterior, you can see it behind the building, belching smoke closer to the Eighth Avenue side.

“Research by the industrial archaeologist Thomas Flagg indicates that it was also used to supply heat, light, elevator hydraulics and refrigeration for the station as well as compressed air for braking and signaling,” wrote Christopher Gray in a 1989 New York Times article.

“It even incinerated the station’s garbage.” The smokestack, however, have been removed.

Constructed two years before Penn Station opened and designed by station architects McKim, Mead, and White, it has the same granite facade as Penn Station did, now gray with grime and soot in the shadow of Madison Square Garden.

It’s simple structure that’s still in use—but a ghost of its former glory. (That waiting room, sigh.)

[Top photo: Wikipedia; second and third photos: Ephemeral New York; fourth photo: LOC; fifth photo: Getty Images]

“Night” at the Brooklyn Museum

April 7, 2009

The statue below, called Night, used to guard one of the entrances to the original Penn Station, a glorious figure greeting millions of commuters every year. Retired now, she sits in the outdoor sculpture garden at the Brooklyn Museum. 


 Night used to be paired with a similar figure, Day. Four sets of Night and Day were created by sculptor Adolph Weinman in 1910 for Penn Station; each pink-granite pair framed the sides of a clock.

So how did she end up in Brooklyn? When Penn Station was torn down in 1963, much of the art and architectural details that made the station such a jewel went straight to landfill. Night was soon retrieved from a dump in the Meadowlands. The whereabouts of her partner, Day, are unclear.

Another set of Night and Day, along with some original Penn Station eagles, somehow made their way to a park in Kansas City, Missouri. The photo below, with Night on the right, provides a better idea of what the originals looked like.