Eulogy for a Fallen Giant

The main waiting area of the old NY Penn Station

If you’ve ever taken the train into New York City, there’s a good chance you arrived in New York Penn Station. Pennsylvania Station is a major hub of the city’s public transportation system and one of the busiest and most important train stations in the city.

Initially named for its affiliation with the Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Penn Station is one of more than half-a-dozen Penn Stations across the Northeast of the US. When it was originally built in 1910, Penn Station was a symbol of modern transportation systems and social progress. Along with Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station provided a major intercity rail connection in Manhattan.

However, despite the long and important history of this train station, the Penn Station you see today is a mere shadow of the one that stood there a half century ago. The original Penn Station, which stood from its completion in 1910 until it was removed in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden and an office building, was the largest train station ever built, encompassing a full two city blocks. A masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, the Penn Station of old featured a grand waiting room with a 150 ft. vaulted ceiling that soared overhead, Romanesque colonnades that lined the exterior of the building, and platforms lined with decorative ironwork. It was a powerful symbol of the union between modern technology and ancient glory, and it served as a monument to display the wealth and power of the great city of New York. However, its life proved to be far shorter than anyone in 1910 could have ever expected.

Decorative ironwork in the old NY Penn Station

In the early 1960’s, rail traffic was declining due to the advent of the interstate highway system and commercial air travel. In response to its bleak outlook for the future, the Pennsylvania Railroad decided to sell the ground level section of the property and its associated airspace. The tracks and platforms, which were primarily housed underground, would continue to serve their original purpose, and have remained active to this day. Although there were some efforts to stop the demolition of Penn Station, the population of New York City remained largely quiet. After all, who would ever even think of tearing down such a magnificent building?

But razed it was. The grand hall… gone. The sculptures… trash. The ironwork… scrap metal. All that remains of the grand edifice, barring the platforms themselves, are a single staircase, an iron entryway, and a few other small remnants of the old building scattered within and around the new station. Fortunately, some of the sculptures and clocks were salvaged, and are now on display in museums, universities, other train stations, and elsewhere.

The old NY Penn Station

The world was taken aback at the destruction of such a magnificent and important structure. The demolition of Penn Station shocked New York into passing a landmark protection law and creating a commission responsible for the protection of historical landmarks. This commission was later responsible for preventing the demolition of Grand Central Terminal, after a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

The current Penn Station resides almost entirely underground, and consists of the original platforms along with what many describe as small, unflattering “catacombs” consisting of a low-ceilinged waiting area, a concourse, shops, etc. However, a new, more beautiful train station may be coming soon. Although there have been many legal and financial hindrances, a plan for the construction of a new station in a nearby post office has gained traction in recent years. The station will be named Moynihan Station, in honor of the US senator who pushed for its creation. Entrances to the underground tracks of Penn Station from the post office are scheduled to be completed by 2016, after which the construction of the main hall of Moynihan Station will begin. However, even after its completion, the new station will only service Amtrak passengers – about five percent of Penn station’s current traffic. NJ Transit, Long Island RR, and subway passengers will continue to use the crowded Penn Station.

The story of New York Penn Station is one of great tragedy, of inevitable change, and of lessons to be learned. Functionally, its demolition provided great benefits to the city. A new arena, additional office space, … and all while keeping a fully functional train station. However, with the loss of the architectural masterpiece that was Penn Station, New Yorkers lost a beautiful piece of artwork to bring joy to their daily commute. They lost a magnificent edifice that welcomed visitors to the city with a declaration of New York’s greatness. They lost a symbol of the past and an old friend.

Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned. Sometimes, even in mundane, everyday things like a train station, people long for more than just simple functionality. Engineers would be wise to recognize that desire, however unquantifiable. Transportation systems are intended to serve people. Why should that be limited to such a narrow concept? If a transportation system can be beautiful without sacrificing its primary function, is it not more likely to be used? Will it not bring more joy and satisfaction to the people it serves? Will not more people be interested in its upkeep and preservation? Maybe art and man’s sense of beauty are the best answers to the question of true sustainability after all.

The main waiting area of the old NY Penn Station







180 thoughts on “Eulogy for a Fallen Giant

  1. I think the decision to demolish a large portion of the original Penn Station in New York City was a poor decision, and could have potentially been avoided if transportation engineers expressed the value in this mode of transportation. Although rail traffic may have declined due to the construction of the interstate highway, transportation engineers should have used urban planning strategies to expose the value this train station would have in the future. New York City continues to grow in population each year, and with that growth there is an increased usage of public transportation both within the city and to the city each day. Transportation engineers should have realized the value in this train station, as it could have effectively served the growing population as people migrated to the city. The area that was reallocated to make room for a new arena and office space, could have been used to serve the large crowds of people who currently fill the crowded Penn Station each day.

    • I agree. Unfortunately, it can be hard to predict the future, and the planners of that time might not have seen a need for such a large train station. Also, there’s the issue of the city government telling a private railroad that it can’t sell its own building.

    • read it tnxxx
      قیمت میلگرد آناهیتا
      میلگرد، به فولادی که در بتن برای جبران مقاومت کششی پایین آن مورد استفاده گفته می شود .نام دیگر میلگرد آرماتور می باشد.از آنجایی که فولاد به کار رفته در سازه های بتن آرمه به شکل سیم یا آرماتور می‌باشد، با آن فولاد میلگرد گفته می شود

  2. I agree with your statement about how people want to see more than just ordinary infrastructure in their everyday life. The job of an engineer is to push the boundaries of what people typically expect to see. It’s a travesty to think that Penn Station, a site of architectural feat, has been condemned to the underground of the city. I think that as a society today, we are so busy and want to live a such a fast paced life that we forget to look at the world around us and see the beauty in many of the historical buildings that still stand. As engineers build for the future, it is important to find inspiration from the magnificent structures of the past.

    • Very True. In a sense, the fundamentals of the way we (as a society) build infrastructure has not changed. This allows us to take that inspiration from the way things were made in the past, and to incorporate the art that they produced into our modern systems.

  3. I really enjoyed reading about the old Penn Station in your blog post this week, but I was saddened by the destruction of such a beautiful building. There was a small group of people, however, that protested the demolishing of Penn Station in 1962. Today this group now identifies themselves The New York Preservation Archive Project. Although fifty years ago New York lost a landmark, this action made people more aware of historic structures and there is now a greater advocacy for preservation.

    • Good point. Advocates for historical preservation have always existed. It’s a question of numbers and influence. In addition to convincing those in government that historical buildings are important and should be preserved, the destruction of NY Penn Station also convinced many in the population as a whole.

  4. The decline of Penn Station just goes to show how dynamic and constantly-evolving the field of transportation really is. New modes of transport are constantly being developed, and we have no choice but to meet demands. The destruction of the station is saddening for a number of reasons, one of them being sustainability. It’s a shame to see so much time, effort, and material going into a beautful structure, only to destroy it shortly thereafter.

    • I agree. In one sense, changing technology forces us to address the difficult question of whether we should always strive to meet the “demands” of the present with new technologies or bigger systems, or whether sometimes it is important to value the things of the past even if they don’t seem as functionally efficient as their modern competitors. We may in fact find that those “traditional” technologies may yet retain their charm (and with it, their popular place in the public’s heart) long into the future.

  5. I agree with the consensus; those are some beautiful photographs of Penn Station, and it’s a shame to see historical beauty destroyed. I think train transportation was a much more glorified means of travel during that time. Nowadays, typical American trains lack any grandeur and are used primarily to save money or time spent in rush hour traffic. Perhaps if we can make trains in the US more sophisticated, like the bullet trains in Europe and Japan, then people would be more likely to use them.

    • As is often the case, we are forced to wonder (because it likely ain’t happenin’ any time soon!) if ideas such as bullet trains in the US are examples of wonderful forethought and a terrific investment for the future or simply a waste of money for an overbuilt system. However, I think we can be certain about one thing: as you said, there’s a certain appeal to the elegance and grandeur of a cutting-edge transportation system such as American rail then and Japanese rail now.

  6. s audio card without any ambient noise or loss of sound quality,
    which will probably beat any recording made with an acoustic piano and consumer grade
    recording hardware available at a neighborhood electronics store.

    Many mobile laptop users find that the most appropriate model,
    for them, often involves some kind of compromise,
    usually between the size of the screen, or the number of additional features, and the overall physical size, and weight, of the
    machine. There are many such medical firms in and around United States and you will be able to find one near your location by searching
    on the internet.

  7. This incredible animal can eat up to 400 pounds of food a day.
    – (Snack) Handful of mixed nuts or your favorite fruits like 2 small bananas,
    an apple, an orange or a mango. Of course, it also
    helps if we’re taking care of our skin properly and drinking plenty of water but there are several different things that we can eat which is going to make a difference in the way that our skin looks.

  8. Give the kind of certification unlicensed contractors can a guarantee of their references
    or testimonials. Other options are also not mean reliable.
    And you’re going to make a huge chunk of your property.

    My web site: webpage (Ardis)

  9. Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this site on a regular basis, this
    website is truly pleasant and the visitors are really sharing fastidious thoughts.

    Feel free to surf to my web blog … Google

    • glass-inter-cabinet-tiles
      کاشي از جمله معروف‌ترين محصولات سفالي به شمار مي‌رود که محصول خاک رس و سفال است. بيشترين کاربرد آن در آشپزخانه، حمام و دستشويي خانه بوده و يکي از فرآورده‌هاي سراميک است

  10. The quality of personnel who have been planted. This program
    is also user-friendly with captivating search engine marketing content.
    MultimediaMultimedia is composed of hyperlinks.
    Personally, I reported a noticeable single-day drop in the first
    thing to remember is that your web company. Simply put, online marketing experts,
    photographers, real time procedures that
    is original. All of them are that the world.

    Here’s a Fast Track Technique to make sure that it both grabs the
    customers and website. It is because of certain ways to adapt to the more aged generation of internet designer.

    My page: seo

  11. On Auburn’s second fool around of the drive, Oregon unsuccessful to waste
    time through the alarm that authorised Auburn RB Michael
    Dyerr collect inside the integrate doze additional yards once everybody
    upon the margin satisfied his knee never overwhelmed the ground.
    When they do experience this latter scenario, would it be any wonder
    your web visitors get upset. I am starting by researching the maximum mount of information I can find and provide
    more exciting News to you.

  12. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you’ve
    hit the nail on the head. The issue is something
    which not enough people are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I came across this during my hunt
    for something regarding this.

  13. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after
    checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and
    I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  14. Hey there. I found your blog by the use of Google while searching for a similar topic, your web site got here up. It seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then. oday bloggers publish only about gossip and internet stuff and this is actually irritating. A good site with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for making this site, and I’ll be visiting again.

  15. You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve read through a single thing like this before.
    So wonderful to discover somebody with some original thoughts on this subject.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that’s needed on the internet,
    someone with some originality!

  16. adalah situs permainan Poker Online Indonesia yang menggunakan uang asli untuk memainkannya. Tidak hanya Poker, tentu saja menyediakan banyak permainan lainnya seperti Ceme Online, Blackjack Online dan masih banyak lagi lainnya.
    Kunjungi website kami di untuk mengetahui lebih dalam tentang situs kami.

    • products
      محصولات فایف
      سازه فولادی نوعی سازه است که مصالح اصلی آن که برای تحمل نیروها و انتقال آنها به کار می‌رود از فولاد است. اتصالات به کار رفته در این نوع سازه‌ها از نوع جوشی، پرچی و یا پیچ می‌باشد و بسته به نوع اتصالات قطعات طرح شده و کنترل‌های مربوطه بر
      روی آنها انجام می‌شود.

  17. This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise information… Thank you for
    sharing this one. A must read article!

    • خرید قابلمه روحی اصل
      برای اینکه بتوانید تشخیص دهید که قابلمه شما از جنس آلومینیوم است یا روی ، بهترین نکته توجه به وزن آن است.چون قابلمه های آلومینیومی وزن سبکی دارند و قابلمه هایی که از جنس روی ساخته شده اند ، سنگین ترند.
      ظروف روحی قیمت بالاتری در مقایسه با ظروف آلومینیومی دارند .ظروف رویی طول عمر بالایی دارند.ظروف روحی دیرتر از آلومینیوم گرم میشوند.بعلاوه ظروف روحی ضخیم تر از ظروف آلومینیومی هستند.جوشاندن آب در ظروف آلومینیومی باعث سیاه شدن آب میشود و این یکی از نکاتی است که با استفاده از آن میتوان ظرف آلومینیوم را با توجه به آن تشخیص داد.

  18. به جون تو که نباشی میخوام این دنیا نباشه
    بدون تو بدون که زندگیم آخراشه
    به جون تو که دلم طاقت دوریتو نداره
    بدون تو میرسه به ته خط دلم دوباره
    نمیشه که بری خاطره هاتو فقط بذاری نمیشه که به این راحتی بگی منو نداری

    دانلود آهنگ جدید ماکان بند به جون تو

  19. کسی از تو قلب تو چی میدونه
    ای وای چه چشمایی اسمم رو نوشت جایی
    جایی که توی قلبت همیشه آرزوم بود
    ای وای دلم خواستش دیوونه شدم راستش
    دیوونه ی آدمی که اون شب رو به روم بود
    من که آدمش نبودم این عشق دیگه چی بود
    دانلود آهنگ جدید علی لهراسبی صورت

  20. ای وای دلم خواستش دیوونه شدم راستش

    دیوونه ی آدمی که اون شب رو به روم بود

    من که آدمش نبودم این عشق دیگه چی بود

    چشم بهم زدم دلم باهاش خیلی یکی بود

    من دیگه دیوونم بی تو نمیتونم

    دیگه نمیشد بدون چشمای تو سر کرد

    دانلود آهنگ علی لهراسبی صورت

  21. کی مثه تو ته بی معرف میشه که از رو
    همه چی رد میشه که دوستیمون این شکلی بشه
    شدم بال و پرتو من بگیری بالا سرتو من
    کیف کنم به همه بگم من برا توام
    گفتی بذار صدتو حله نباشه غم تو هر کاری

    دانلود آهنگ جدید میثم ابراهیمی کی مثه منه

  22. The content is quite elaborate and detailed, but I think it needs more practical elements to attract the attention of readers, thank you for sharing this article.

    • read it tnxxxxx
      سبد حصیری عمده از کجا بخرم؟
      آشپزخانه? کامل یعنی آشپزخانه‌ای که برایتان رفاه به همراه می‌آورد؛ یعنی در آن وسایل ضروری موجود است و برای پخت‌وپز غذاهای مختلف، همه‌چیز در دسترس‌تان قرار دارد. دانستن فهرست کامل وسایل ضروری آشپزخانه باعث می‌شود که این بخش از منزل را راحت‌تر آماده کنید.

  23. چرا باید از سئو محلی استفاده کنیم؟ یکی از سولات متداول این است که من صاحب کسب و کارم، اما نمی‌دانم که چه نیازی به Local SEO دارم؟ در جواب به این سوال باید گفت که طبق آنالیزها و تحقیقاتی که انجام شده آمار کسانی که جستجوگر محلی هستند و یا به عبارتی در انتهای جستجوهای خود از واژه “نزدیک من” هم استفاده می‌کنند، این روزها به شدت در حال افزایش است.
    سئو محلی یا Local SEO چیست؟ آموزش سئو محلی یا سئو لوکال – اسماعیل سحاب

  24. صفحه اول گوگل جایگاهی است که این روزها اکثر کسب‌وکارها به دنبال آن‌ها هستند. مگر این صفحه نسبت به صفحه‌های دیگر چه جایگاهی دارد که همه آن را
    می‌خواهند؟ چگونه می‌توان به آن رسید؟ در این مقاله با ما همراه باشید تا به صفحه اول گوگل برسید. به دست آوردن نتیجه صفحه اول گوگل برای سایت خود مستلزم داشتن اطلاعاتی وسیع در مورد سئو است. این اطلاعات را شما یا باید خود بیاموزید و یا اینکه از شخصی که این اطلاعات را می‌داند کمک بگیرید درنهایت فرقی نمی‌کند هدف نهایی رسیدن به رتبه اول گوگل و درنتیجه چند برابر شدن ترافیک و بیشتر دیده شدن شما توسط مخاطبین شما است.
    صفحه اول گوگل، چگونه در صفحه اول گوگل قرار بگیریم؟ – اسماعیل سحاب

  25. اگر بخواهیم به زبان ساده به شما بگوییم که نرخ کلیک چیست، باید ابتدا بگوییم که CTR در واقع مخفف Click Through Rate که معادل فارسی آن برابر است با نرخ کلیک! هنگامی که کاربران در موتور جستجو به دنبال خواسته خود هستند، با مشاهده یک لیست از نتایجی که در برابرشان ظاهر می‌شود، انتخاب می‌کنند که کدام نتیجه برای آن‌ها کاربردی تر است!
    کاربر با مشاهده بر روی هر کدام از آن‌ها که کلیک کند، در واقع درصد بازدید به کلیک آن نتیجه را افزایش می‌دهد. هر چقدر که نرخ کلیک یک سایت بیشتر باشد به آن معناست که تعداد کاربران بیشتری وارد سایت شده‌اند و در واقع نرخ کلیک افزایش پیدا کرده است.
    نرخ کلیک (CTR) چیست؟ ونرخ کلیک چه تاثیری بر روی سئو دارد؟ – اسماعیل سحاب

  26. American actor, author, and playwright Jesse Eisenberg who gained popularity after his work in Zombieland (2009), The Social Network (2010), Holy Rollers (2010), Now You See Me (2013) and its sequel, and villain Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

    • hassan-rud-gilan
      قیمت میلگرد حسن رود
      میلگرد، به فولادی که در بتن برای جبران مقاومت کششی پایین آن مورد استفاده گفته می شود .نام دیگر میلگرد آرماتور می باشد.از آنجایی که فولاد به کار رفته در سازه های بتن آرمه به شکل سیم یا آرماتور می‌باشد، با آن فولاد میلگرد گفته می شود.

  27. چگونه بهترین سایز قابلمه ها را انتخاب کنیم ؟
    راهنمای سایز بندی قابلمه
    اهل برگزاری مهمانی ها و دورهمی های بزرگ نیستید بهتر است اندازه قابلمه با سایز 40 به بعد را خریداری نکنید که برای شما کاربردی نخواهند داشت و یا اگر فکر میکنید که مهمانی های بزرگی را در منزلتان برگزار میکنید بهتر است از قابلمه
    های سایز 42 به بعد نمونه اش را در منزل به همراه داشته باشید.

  28. اولین قدم برای ازادی و ارامش خاطر، مشاوره با یک وکیل با تجربه و متخصص می است. وکیل خوب در اصفهان ، شما را در همه موارد حقوقی شامل؛ قتل عمد و غیر عمد ، قتل در تصادفات رانندگی ، قتل های خانوادگی ، قتل فرزند ، قتل پدر و… یاری می کند و اطلاعات کاملی را در این زمینه به شما ارائه می کند.

  29. lashtar-stone-white-veins
    سنگ یکی از پرکاربردترین و رایج ترین مصالح ساختمانی است که از گذشته تا امروز مورد استفاده قرار گرفته است. سنگ ها دارای قابلیت های منحصر بفردی هستند که قابل مقایسه با سایر مصالح ساختمانی نمی باشند.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *