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Thread: Pennsylvania Station 1910-1963

  1. #61


    Great photos. There need be only one simple criterion for the automatic landmarking of any building: Guastavino Tile Work.

  2. #62
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    The 31 page official booklet published July 1910 (with 23 photographs) for opening of the original Penn Station on September 8, 1910 via Google Books, as noted in a NY Times article from August 29, 1910 chronicling the opening of the station:

    The New York Improvement and Tunnel Extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad

    Some shots back when it was pristine ...

    Along Seventh Avenue, with the hole for
    the Pennsylvania Hotel to the east:

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    The Main Waiting Room:

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    The Concourse looking towards 33rd Street:

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    Track level:

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    Exits at 33rd Street:

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    Hackensack Portals of the Bergen Hill Tunnel:

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  3. #63
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The entire 1910 booklet as posted at railfan (individual pages in jpg format).

  4. #64


    Here is the Hollywood sound-stage recreation of PennStation... quite something:

    The Clock (MGM 1945) starring Robert Walker and Miss Judy Garland.

    Stay for the ride up 5th Avenue... and take a look at the gorgeous store fronts.

  5. #65
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Review> Penn Station's History Lesson

    Exhibition explores the legacy of New York's lost Beaux Arts landmark and ponders the site's future.

    Phil Patton

    1958 photo of 'the clamshell,' an aluminum and steel canopy over Penn Station's electronic ticketing area
    designed by architect Lester Tichy, who was a protege of Raymond Loewy.

    Like Troy, Pennsylvania Station is best known for its destruction. “New York City has never got over tearing down Penn Station,” observed the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whose name will someday go on its planned successor, in the James Farley Post Office building next door.

    Famously, photographs showed statues dumped in New Jersey swamps. Ada Louise Huxtable may have gotten a little carried away but reflected the popular mood when she declared that “tossed into the Secaucus graveyard are about 25 centuries of classical culture and the standards of style, elegance and grandeur that it gave to the dreams and constructions of Western man.” But surely the loss of the station in 1963 remains a primal cultural wound in New York City and a symbol for a wider loss of public space and public planning. It marked the end of innocence and beginning of knowledge, similar to if not as profound as the death of President Kennedy later that year. The story is familiar to everyone literate about architecture: Penn Station died so that other old buildings could live, so that landmarks commissions and preservation movements could flourish.

    But there is more to the story as we are reminded by a new exhibit called “The Once and Future Pennsylvania Station” at the Transit Museum’s Annex and Store in Grand Central Terminal. (Check the maps and guides to find the spot.) The small show is made up of a couple of rooms of photographs, artifacts such as a great milky spherical light fixture left from the station, and a few video clips, including a brief sound clip of Philip Johnson and others protesting the station’s destruction.

    The soaring glass ceiling of Penn Station's Central Waiting Room (top) and an aerial view of the beaux Arts
    Station inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla (bottom).

    New York’s great Beaux Arts Monuments are all around a century old—Grand Central’s big birthday comes up in 2013, the Public Library’s this spring; and last year would have been the 100th for Penn Station, which barely made it to age 50.

    Inspired by the Baths of Caracalla, the station was conceived to join the transcontinental lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad with those of the Long Island Railroad. It was known not just for its soaring concourse and waiting room with arched glass roof but also for heroic sculpture and murals by Jules Guerin. However, the station was the result of planning, engineering, and building of infrastructure. It is hard now to grasp that to cross the Hudson River—a full mile wide—trains were once ferried on huge barges. To make the station possible trains had to be electrified and new tunneling techniques developed.

    Patriotic photomurals designed by Raymond Loewy adorned the west wall of the Central Waiting Room in 1943.

    The show suggests something else. A wall caption quotes historian Hilary Ballon: “Pennsylvania station embodied the imperial grandeur and self-confidence of America at the turn of the century, a symbol of imperial confidence.” Today, by contrast, one sees long lines of passengers waiting outside the Farley postal building for buses, huddling against the cold like a Depression soup line. They are a symbol, too.

    The station was a great piece of architecture, but was it a great piece of city planning? In addition to a close reading of some of the histories of the station, the show also invites comparisons between Penn Station and Grand Central as urbanism. At Grand Central, the show points out, the New York Central and its planners profited from rights to the space above the station, and the junction of commuter rail lines and subway helped turn the station into the anchor of a commercial neighborhood. Not so over on Eighth Avenue, where Penn Station had to wait eight years before the Westside IRT arrived. Yes, rail traffic dropped steeply after World War II and the arrival of intercity airplane service. But stranded far west, almost like the current Javits Center, Penn Station was never knitted into a vital commercial area. Ultimately, the value of the land above the tracks rose: what replaced the station building was the huge drum of Madison Square Garden so that Mick Jagger and Walt “Clyde” Frazier could cavort in the concourse space once transfixed by sunbeams.

    An eagle removed from Penn Station's facade during demolition in 1963 (top) and demolition debris
    being removed from the site (bottom).

    The parable of Penn Station has long been read simply as a cautionary tale about the need to save the grandly-built past. To this lesson might be added: plan well when you build.

    The show also includes a look at current plans for the much-revised Moynihan Station in the Farley post office. The plan for the new station, by David Childs of Skidmore Owings Merrill, calls for a large interior space under glass. But the future station, suggested by the show’s title, needs to be part of a wider plan. Without improvements in the tunnels that bring trains to the city and to the wider train system, it risks becoming little more than a memorial to the old station and a memento of what might have been.

  6. #66


    Great stuff everyone, thanks for sharing. Ada Louise Huxtable's quote is probably my favorite quote of all time......

  7. #67

    Default DEAR HEART a 1964 movie staring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page

    I just saw a terrific movie on TCM called DEAR HEART (1964) staring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page which had 2 scenes shot in magnificent Great Hall of the former Penn Station, just before it was demolished. The opening scene has Geraldine Page's character coming to New York via Penn Station and in the background you can see the big clock and the intricate iron work of the ceiling. The final scene in the movie has Glenn Ford descending the massive staircase where you can see a large mural painting on the wall and when the camera pulls away you can see just how vast the former Penn Station was.
    Another great movie where you can see Penn Station's interior is the 1955 Marilyn Monroe movie Seven Year Itch and in An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant you can see the exterior in the background just before Deborah Kerr gets hit by the taxi cab. Does anybody know other movies where Penn Station can be seen?
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  8. #68
    Senior Member
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    Washington, DC


    The Hitchcock classic "Strangers on a Train" has an fine sequence of the south taxiway and the main hall.

  9. #69
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    New York City


  10. #70


    Do there exist any color pictures of the old penn station

  11. #71


    Quote Originally Posted by marvelfannumber1 View Post
    Do there exist any color pictures of the old penn station
    Sure, I'll take a look in my files. There are plenty.

  12. #72


    Nicely done GVNY, good work!

  13. #73
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    Out of curiousity, was the old New York Penn station's metal work at all like the current Newark Penn Station's metal structure?

  14. #74


    It’s time to address the calamity that is Penn Station. By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN Published: February 8, 2012 (The New York Times)

    Restore a Gateway to Dignity By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN February 8, 2012 (The New York Times)

    It’s time to address the calamity that is Penn Station.
    Nearly a half-century has passed since the destruction of the great 1910 station designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White, a “monumental act of vandalism,” as an editorial in The New York Times called the demolition in 1963. A vast steel, travertine and granite railway palace of the people, the old Pennsylvania Station had declined by the end into a symbol of bygone Gilded Age opulence. It was replaced by Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden, Modernist mediocrities, erected to serve real estate interests, with a new subterranean Penn Station entombed below.
    Some 600,000 commuters, riding Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, now suffer Penn Station every day. That makes it probably the busiest transit hub in the Western world, busier than Heathrow Airport in London, busier than Newark, La Guardia and Kennedy airports combined.
    To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. To commute via the bowels of Penn Station, just a few blocks away, is a humiliation.
    What is the value of architecture? It can be measured, culturally, humanely and historically, in the gulf between these two places.
    Long trumpeted as a solution to the blight that is Penn Station has been the plan, well more than a decade old, to transform the present James A. Farley Post Office, opposite Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue, into a new train hub. The project is named for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the New York senator who championed the idea before his death in 2003. It is a first step.
    But the only way to fix Penn properly is to move Madison Square Garden.
    Why? Because the open secret about the Moynihan plan is that Amtrak alone would move across Eighth Avenue. Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the subways wouldn’t budge. And only 30,000 of those 600,000 people who use Penn Station each day take Amtrak, never mind all the subway riders passing through.
    That’s right: 95 percent of commuters will still have to contend with Penn even when the Moynihan plan is realized.
    It’s true that the Moynihan plan will eventually improve a few access routes to subways and commuter trains. But it will add no new tracks and have limited effect on the congestion and misery of Penn Station. New tracks aside, the challenge is at the bare minimum to bring light and air into this underground purgatory and, beyond that, to create for millions of people a new space worthy of New York, a civic hub in the spirit of the great demolished one, more attuned to the city’s aspirations and democratic ideals.
    Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are about to undertake yet another study of how best to accomplish this after the Moynihan plan is completed. Building a train hub that brings a little pleasure underground is possible, as Rem Koolhaas demonstrated with his tram tunnel in The Hague. But that complex project, which took forever and overcame numerous political hurdles even in the Netherlands, is small and simple compared with Penn Station, where the Garden presents an insurmountable obstacle.
    This is about more than tracks and trains and redecorating. It’s about social equity and New York’s ability to compete with other global capitals in the 21st century. We have become a city too cynical about big change, resigned to the impossibility of unraveling bureaucratic entanglements, beholden to private interests, inured to commercialism and compromise.
    We depend on developers to improve neighborhoods, and at the same time we waste unconscionable amounts of public money on architectural follies like the much-delayed World Trade Center PATH station, which is projected, even after ground zero is fully developed, to serve only perhaps 60,000 riders and whose exploding cost is already approaching $4 billion, a scandal still waiting to dawn on New Yorkers.
    Meanwhile infrastructural crises that affect millions of people a day drag on, among them our abysmal airports; noisy, erratic subways; lack of high-speed rail; and Penn Station. No other great city in the world would abide a station like it.
    Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, told me the other day that she was looking at the potential traffic impact of a concept floated by, among others, Vishaan Chakrabarti, a planner and real estate professor at Columbia University. The idea would be to close 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues to automobile traffic, creating a pedestrian zone that would improve access to Penn Station and help with light and air. It may turn out to be the only practical move, in conjunction with the Moynihan project.
    But here’s another thought.
    In his State of the State address last month Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed redeveloping 18 acres on the Far West Side of Midtown occupied since the 1980s by the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. He announced that the Genting Group of Malaysia had agreed to pay $4 billion to build a new convention center, the country’s largest, at a racetrack casino hard by Kennedy Airport in Jamaica, Queens.
    The proposal raises all sorts of issues, for Jamaica and Manhattan, which need to be carefully unpacked in due time. Among them, New York ought to demand direct train service linking Kennedy to Midtown in return for all those billions of dollars Genting has calculated it will rake in at the casino. As for the Javits site, the West Side is being rezoned and rebuilt for luxury apartment towers and enormous office buildings. It desperately needs more schools, green spaces, low- and mixed-income housing, a restoration of the street grid and enhancements to the waterfront, which the convention center has long blocked.
    But demolishing the Javits Center also presents a possible solution to Penn Station.
    The thought is: Move Madison Square Garden to the southern end of the Javits site, at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. That is a prime location in what is hoped to become the busy intersection of a new Midtown South. The state, in conjunction with the city, would provide the Garden’s owners with a turnkey, or at least a very generous, deal: a new riverfront arena, partly financed by the substantial air rights gained in return for acquiring the Garden’s present site.
    The new arena, unlike the current Garden, would compete as an up-to-date sports and entertainment center with the one rising at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. It would stand at the northern culmination of the completed High Line, and at the doorstep of a redeveloped Hudson Yards, where the new extension of the No. 7 subway line from Times Square will stop. Generations of New York sports fans have attachments to the Garden, but it has been moved several times before. The present arena is a flimsy, aging eyesore, notwithstanding the millions that its owners have lately been pouring into refurbishment — money that would have been amortized by the time a prospective new arena could be made ready.
    Why should the public subsidize a private arena? To serve the larger public good: the money would go toward improving the lives of millions of New Yorkers and others who use Penn Station. Both the city and state have legal sticks to compel the Garden to move, among them a special permit the city grants, and could decline to renew, which allows the Garden to operate at its present site. But that route carries its own costs, political and financial.
    The idea of moving the Garden west has come up before. There was the evolving plan that died some years ago to build a new Jets football stadium and shift the Garden to Hudson Yards as part of a bid for the Olympics. The football stadium was a nonstarter for Midtown, but a multiuse arena like the Garden is not a football stadium. It can be a decent urban neighbor and built largely underground to preserve the streetscape.
    Then there was the more elaborate notion that collapsed a few years ago of its own weight, along with the economy and the political career of Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The owner of the Garden and Cablevision, the Dolan family, was by various accounts on board with this idea, which entailed going into the back, or western side, of the present Farley Post Office — in effect moving the Garden behind the new Amtrak station when Farley becomes Moynihan.
    Nonetheless skeptical about moving that one block away because so many Garden patrons enjoy going straight upstairs from the subways and commuter trains in Penn Station, the Garden’s owners might not be blamed for dismissing yet another proposal to move even farther west.
    But the glamour of a new arena alongside the High Line, with the boon of the No. 7 extension and the added benefit of dedicated bus service from Penn Station to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which Ms. Sadik-Khan said is in the works, suggest what’s possible.
    I got a tour of Penn Station and the Farley Post Office the other day with Juliette Michaelson from the Regional Plan Association, which keeps tabs on the Moynihan project.
    Phase 1, she said, should cost $267 million and take at least five or six years to complete. Bids have just come in. That phase will widen and lengthen pedestrian concourses in Penn Station to provide new exits and elevator access for overcrowded tracks. Rush-hour commuters need 10 to 12 minutes to reach faraway exits. The present station is an egregious firetrap. This phase will also provide new entrances to Penn Station from either side of the Farley Post Office staircase on Eighth Avenue.
    Phase 2 will finally move Amtrak’s ticket offices and waiting rooms into an atrium in the Farley Post Office. I was surprised, and suspect other New Yorkers will be too, to realize that pedestrians entering this future Moynihan Station, unless they elect to go out of their way and climb the front steps to pass through what will remain a post office, will circulate in and out of street-level passageways on either side of the grand staircase.
    The 1912 Post Office facade — also by McKim, Mead & White, with the “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom” inscription — will then become the face of Amtrak. That will restore a superficial measure of the dignity to railway travel that was lost in 1963 when the old Pennsylvania Station was torn down. But the experience for most people using the building will not be like the glory of moving through Grand Central or the old Penn Station. Aesthetically, a top-ranking state official confided to me in all seriousness, the Moynihan project aspires to be more like the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station in Secaucus, N.J.
    Years ago the critic Ada Louise Huxtable noted that at the turn of the last century the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Alexander Cassatt, wanted to build a hotel atop Penn Station to exploit valuable air rights. But his architect, McKim, talked him out of it. The railroad owed the city a “thoroughly and distinctly monumental gateway,” McKim argued. Idealism temporarily triumphed over commerce, until McKim’s great building, across several troubled decades, became an increasingly rundown emblem of urban glory and gave way to an architecture of gloomy pragmatism and moneyed interests.
    There is historic justice in trying to rectify a crime committed a half-century ago that galvanized the architectural preservation movement. “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat,” is the familiar lament from Vincent J. Scully Jr., the Yale architectural historian, about the difference between the former and present Penn Stations.
    But history moves on, and New York remains vibrant because it is not stuck in the past. The lesson to be gleaned from the destruction of the old Penn Station is about the importance of preserving McKim’s public-spirited ideal for urban splendor as much as it is about preserving venerable buildings.
    And the argument to move the Garden now is about looking ahead toward a booming new West Side. A light-filled Penn Station, a monument to the city’s best self and biggest dreams, should become its gateway.

  15. #75
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    50 Years Ago, Sharply Dressed Protesters Stood Up for a Train Station They Revered


    Eddie Hausner/The New York Times Protesters in front of Pennsylvania Station on Aug. 2, 1962.

    The architects Peter Samton and Diana Goldstein can tell you exactly where they were a half century ago, at 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 1962: out on Seventh Avenue, tilting at windmills.

    How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

    Pennsylvania Station, the McKim, Mead & White masterpiece, was doomed. They knew it. But they weren’t going to let it go down undefended. With Norval White, Jordan Gruzen, Elliott Willensky and others, they assembled an impromptu resistance brigade known as Agbany, for Action Group for Better Architecture in New York.

    On that 86-degree summer evening 50 years ago, commuters were greeted by the sight of more than 100 buttoned-down and white-gloved protesters marching around the colossal colonnade at the station’s entrance.

    “Save Penn Station,” their signs said, in nicely formed letters. (Architects. Of course.) “Don’t Sell Our City Short.” “Save Our Heritage.” “Action Not Apathy.”

    Philip Johnson was impeccably present, in the company of the peerless Elizabeth Bliss Parkinson, a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, who would soon be its president. There was Aline B. Saarinen, the widow of Eero Saarinen, who had been until 1959 an associate art critic at The New York Times. Agbany counted Eleanor Roosevelt, Stewart Alsop, Jane Jacobs and Norman Mailer among its supporters, along with many of the most respected names in architecture and architectural criticism.

    Also on the protest line were Ms. Goldstein’s friends, ex-husband and a few old boyfriends, whom she had dragooned into picketing duty. “I said to someone, ‘This is like my life passing before my eyes — all these guys walking round and round,’” she recalled in a telephone interview on Tuesday from San Francisco. She was then 30 years old and known as Diana Kirsch.

    Mr. Samton, who was 27, recalled being deputized to get Mr. Johnson down to Penn Station that day. “He said, ‘I have a meeting with Mrs. Parkinson; I can’t come.’ We said, ‘Well, bring her along and you can have your meeting while you parade.’”

    “The fact that he came meant that we got publicity,” Mr. Samton said the other day, after spreading out Agbany memorabilia in the comfortably modernist living and working space he created on the parlor floor of an Upper West Side brownstone.

    Courtesy of Peter Samton Peter Samton still has copies of the petitions
    circulated by the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York.

    Mr. Samton’s Penn Station files bear more than spiritual scars. A number of pages were singed on Sept. 11, 2001, when the offices of his firm, Gruzen Samton, two blocks south of the World Trade Center, were set ablaze by flaming debris. These include a newspaper ad, reproduced below, that heralded the Aug. 2 rally.

    More than a year before the protesters assembled, it had been known that the developer Irving Mitchell Felt and the Pennsylvania Railroad had every intention of tearing Penn Station down to street level and replacing it with a new Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue, and an office tower and hotel tower on Seventh Avenue.

    Mr. Samton attributed some of the early inertia among opponents to sheer disbelief. “It was impossible to think that this monumental building was going to be demolished to make way for something that would make more money for the landowners,” he said.

    As the threat loomed early in 1962, Ms. Goldstein was invited to attend a luncheon meeting of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter by her boss, Herbert Oppenheimer. Raised in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and educated in South Africa, Ms. Goldstein had grown up unafraid to speak her mind. She asked at the lunch about the pink granite elephant in the room. She recalled being told that construction unions strongly favored the project and that the chapter considered it a done deal.

    As she, Mr. Samton and Mr. Gruzen walked out of the meeting, she said, “Why do we need them? We can just do it ourselves.”

    Mr. White, already an imposing figure in the field, long before he achieved renown with Mr. Willensky as an author of the AIA Guide to New York City, was recruited to head the fledgling Action Group for Better Architecture in New York. The protest won front-page coverage in The Times. A month later, the group met with Mayor Robert F. Wagner.

    That turned out to be nothing but a palliative, however. Demolition began on Penn Station a year later and was completed in 1966, by which time the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission — a purely advisory body in 1962 — had been given regulatory muscle.

    “I really believe Grand Central Terminal was saved because of what happened at Penn Station,” Mr. Samton said. The experience propelled him into a career of civic service paralleling his architectural practice, including the presidency of the City Club of New York.

    Ms. Goldstein, who loves railroads and industrial architecture, spent much of her career designing and planning schools, housing developments and building systems. Her last project was a hospice. Now an artist, she said she still regards the demolition as a “moral outrage.”

    Then she added, “We knew we wouldn’t win, but we did hope to change the climate.”

    Courtesy of Peter Samton The 1962 rallying cry ad was damaged on Sept. 11, 2001.

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