Photos of the old Penn Station before it was demolished
It’s hard to believe that Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station was once a masterpiece of pink granite, marble columns, and arched-glass windows.
In 1963, the above-ground portion of the station was demolished to make room for a massive sports arena, Madison Square Garden. Its reputation as an architectural masterpiece quickly faded. And most recently several incidents have boosted the station’s reputation as a subterranean hellscape.
A train derailment in April that spawned mass cancellations outraged travelers. Later in the month, stampedes and false rumors of an active shooter rippled through Penn after police tased a man. Then, in early May, foul-smelling sewage water rained down on commuters from the ceiling.
Amtrak’s long overdue rail repairs threaten to worsen a headache for the 650,000 people who travel through Penn Station each day.
But things were not always this bad.
Take a look at these photos of the original Penn Station, one of the last structures of neo-classical architecture in New York City, before it was torn down.
The Pennsylvania Railroad ended up optioning the station’s air rights in the 1950s. The above-ground structures would be replaced by Madison Square Garden, while the underground portion of the station would remain.
Sources: Mashable, NYC Architecture
The demolition of the landmark train station ended up being one of the defining moments in the history of architectural preservation in the US. Two years after Penn Station was razed, New York City founded its Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Ewing Galloway / Stringer / Getty Images
Source: Museum of the City of New York
That preservation committee went on to help maintain Grand Central’s majestic look, which now stands in direct opposition to the modern iteration of Penn Station. As New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman writes, “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.”
Source: The New York Times