1910-1963 The destruction of Penn Station | Bedford Hills Real Estate

C. 1910

IMAGE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Penn Station did not make you feel comfortable; it made you feel important.
HILARY BALLON, ART HISTORIAN

In 1910, when New York City transportation terminal Pennsylvania Station opened, it was widely praised for its majestic architecture. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, it featured pink granite construction and a stately colonnade on the exterior.

The main waiting room, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was the largest indoor space in the city — a block and a half long with vaulted glass windows soaring 150 feet over a sun-drenched chamber. Beyond that, trains emerged from bedrock to deposit passengers on a concourse lit by an arching glass and steel greenhouse roof.

This may sound unfamiliar for present-day residents of New York City, who know Penn Station as a miserable subterranean labyrinth.

Though the original Penn Station served 100 million passengers a year at its peak in 1945, by the late 1950s the advent of affordable air travel and the Interstate Highway System had cut into train use. The Pennsylvania Railroad could not even afford to keep the station clean.

1911

IMAGE: GEO. P. HALL & SON/THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY/GETTY IMAGES

1911

IMAGE: GEO. P. HALL & SON/THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY/GETTY IMAGES

In 1962 plans were revealed to demolish the terminal and build entertainment venue Madison Square Garden on top of it. The new train station would be entirely underground and boast amenities such as air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting.

Vocal backlash and protests ensued, but the plan moved forward and Penn Station was demolished.

The outrage was a major catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States. In 1965, the New York Landmarks Law was passed, which helped save the iconic Grand Central Terminal and more than 30,000 other buildings from similar fates. 2015 marks its 50th anniversary.

Since the demolition of the old Penn Station, train ridership has grown tenfold. The new station, a tangle of subway lines and commuter rail, is the busiest terminal in the country and bursting at the seams. Plans are currently underway to renovate and expand the station, and restore a modicum of its original glory.

1911

IMAGE: GEO. P. HALL & SON/THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY/GETTY IMAGES

1910

IMAGE: DETROIT PUBLISHING COMPANY/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

It is a poor society indeed that has no money for anything except expressways to rush people out of our dull and deteriorating cities
ADA LOUISE HUXTABLE, NEW YORK TIMES ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

1911

IMAGE: GEO. P. HALL & SON/THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY/GETTY IMAGES

1911

IMAGE: GEO. P. HALL & SON/THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1925

IMAGE: EWING GALLOWAY/GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1950

IMAGE: HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

1942

IMAGE: MARJORY COLLINS/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1942

IMAGE: MARJORY COLLINS/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

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http://mashable.com/2015/07/20/original-penn-station/

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