PENN STATION – VIEWS OF A DEAD MONUMENT

Pennsylvania Station (which connected the biggest railroad in the country to the greatest city in the country after years of New York being accessible only by Ferry after disembarking a Penn train) was built in the first decade of the 20th century and, in an act of monumental vandalism, was raised in 1963. This vast, historic, beautifully designed, breathtaking building of yore was replaced by the current monstrosity which is virtually a negative print of all its predecessors attributes–low ceilings, bad circulation design, pizza and donut dives, all topped by Madison Square Garden which is, in itself, almost as great a disaster as the station it sits upon.

But it turns out there’s a plan underway to build a ‘new’ Penn Station. I’ve used the quotes around the word new because among several competing plans is a proposal to literally rebuild the old building. After all, the foundation is there, the plans still exist and even the granite that was dumped in New Jersey can be excavated. It wouldn’t be the first time a historic building was rebuilt–click here for more on that fascinating subject– but it would a first in New York City. Look at the above videos (the top one is in superb HD and seems to be from the 1940s) to get a look at old Penn in its heyday. If anything good came of its destruction, it would be that the city awoke the morning after with a terrible hangover and realized the mistake it had made. This led to the successful fight to prevent Grand Central from being destroyed. It also led to New York City having among the best historic landmark laws in the world. In that sense it might be said that Penn Station died for our sins but not in vain.

More
articles