Posts Tagged ‘Penn Station New York City’

What was lost when we lost Penn Station

May 17, 2012

The demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station in October 1963 is considered a city tragedy, a “monumental act of vandalism,” as The New York Times put it at the time.

It was also a catalyst for the preservation movement that’s saved countless buildings from also ending up in pieces in a Meadowlands dump.

Photos of the 1910 Beaux-Arts masterpiece are in no short supply. But have you ever really looked at them and contrasted the images with the Penn Station of today?

Here’s the original Penn Station main waiting room, above in 1911, inspired by glorious ancient Roman baths.

Imagine waiting for your train there, next to one of six Doric columns under a 150-foot high ceiling, with sunlight pouring through the lunette windows.

Here’s the Penn Station waiting room today, above right. Hmmm.

Then there’s the main concourse, where passengers would go to buy tickets before descending the stairs to their trains.

The original was made of glass and steel, reminiscent of train sheds in Europe.

This is it above, in 1962, a year before it was torn down.

Here’s the concourse now, an ugly blur of fluorescent lights.