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The original Penn Station was a steel and glass shrine to transportation, an elegant Beaux-Arts temple with its 150 foot high ceilings and a waiting room modeled after the Roman Baths of Caracalla.
Now it is an underground Habitrail™, lit by yellowed fluorescents and flavored by the odors of Roy Rogers™ and Cinnabon™ stinking down the corridors. Life Magazine has posted an entire series by Eisenstaedt of WWII soldiers’ farewells at Penn Station here. Peter Moore and his wife Barbara documented the death of Penn Station and published their work, The Destruction Of Penn Station.
The only consolation is that Penn Station’s demolition was a large factor in the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965. Last summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced a major restoration project to clean, conserve and regild the statue of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that graces the top of the museum’s Great Stair Hall.
Sadly, her fate was tied to that of the building which was demolished in 1925 to make way for the New York Life Insurance Building. After three decades exposed to the elements and seven years in storage, Diana needed some work when she got to Philadelphia. Thanks to the financial support of Bank of America’s Global Art Conservation Project, in 2013 Diana finally got a full makeover. One the initial observations and tests were complete, conservators cleaned the corrosion, revealing the lovely copper color and the joins. Visitors to the museum during the restoration got to observe it happening in real time, and the whole process was filmed and shown on screens in the museum. In this one you see conservators sampling traces of the original gilding, doing cleaning tests before removing the corrosion over the whole statue, doing a boroscopic (self-lit remote camera) examination of interior, opening the ball and removing the bow and arrow.
This video features the steam cleaning done after the acidic cleanser removed the corrosion, the X-ray imaging and ultrasonic thickness testing, and the scanning electron microscope analysis of the gold traces. On the other hand, I would rather talk to the 35 year (while looking at her all the while). Since we’re local, my husband and I spent our anniversary at the museum in mid-November. I completely agree with the logic of the mayor: Philadelphia took her in and and served her well, and deserves to keep her. First of all, thank you livius for making the effort in this marvelous blog, an obvious labor of love shared with others in our emerging global culture.
At first I found all this fascinating – the fact that this girl Diana was getting so much attention and all that after being forgotten for so long.
Now in catching up on some modern things such as this recent unveiling of Diana Regilt at the PMA, the thought occurs to me that this is somehow cultural rape of a native Philly Icon.

I suppose it is only a matter of time before some other philanthropic or publicity starved banking interest puts arms back on the Venus de Milo in the Louvre and why not throw in a nose ring and tattoos while they are at it.
Grand Central Station, which still exists and is still beautiful, and Pennsylvania Station, which still exists and is, well, no longer beautiful. The reason Pennsylvania Station is no longer beautiful is that the original Pennsylvania Station was torn down in 1963. To many, Penn Station is the utilitarian underground plaza beneath New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden.
Constructed of pink granite and marked by an imposing, classical colonnade, Pennsylvania Station was served by twin carriageways modeled after Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. This article revisits the original structure in pictures, highlighting the beginning of the end of American rail travel’s glory days. Keep reading – explore 20 vintage railway scenes from the glory days of train travel. Excepting the mad scurry for Amtrak platforms after the track number has finally been revealed on the big board, it is an oppressive space completely without joy.
The 13-foot statue of the Huntress drawing her bow was made in 1893 to top the tower of architect Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden. New York Life put her in storage hoping she would find a new home in the city, but every attempt to keep her in New York failed and in 1932 she was adopted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
She was in decent condition overall, but her surface was darkened by corrosion and everything but a few traces of the original gilding was gone.
The focus of the project was first and foremost to analyze and document the statue’s surface and structure. The statue was then primed with a corrosion inhibiting paint containing zinc chromate which left the surface an alarming canary yellow. In November, the scaffolding came down and Diana was revealed in her freshly gilded splendor. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s conservation page has two videos illustrating the restoration process.
But she has NOT quite left New York — a smaller version of her by Saint-Gaudens still exists there, in the American Sculpture Courtyard of the Metropolitan Museum. Been following the story of the Philly Diana for decades, being a native of Philly now living in Gotham for close to forty years. She’s certainly an adoptive one, though, and much beloved so I take your overall point. My POV is that yes she had gilt on the top of MSGII but she was a mere replica of the original bronze piece on top of the too big and too heavy to be a weathervane statue that McKim Meade and White moved to their Agriculture Building at the Columbian Exposition and later lost in the fire of July 1894.

That picture, which is from 1929, is below, along with one of Grand Central (?) with the same sun-beam effect.
But from 1910 to 1963, the site was occupied by a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by McKim, Mead & White that is still considered one of the architectural jewels of New York City. Its main waiting room was inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla and at 150 feet high, it was the largest indoor space in New York City and one of the largest indoor public spaces in the world. Standing on one foot on a spherical base, Diana was originally a weather vane, turning with the wind atop her tower; only later was she riveted to her base for her own safety. In the midst of the Great Depression, the museum had neither the means nor the inclination to regild her. The armature, including the weather vane mechanism which still exists inside the spherical base, was examined for condition and to learn more about how Diana was built. I understand why they did it, though, and am happy that they were willing to spend money on restoration. Ran into your original article recently about the – about to re-gild story while amateur researching some other forgotten items, lost architectural NYC treasures of that so-called gilded age. The Philly Diana was art as she was salvaged and placed in her niche in the PMA just like the Venus de Milo in the Louvre.
And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed. She was the tallest point in the city in her day, and shone so brightly that she could be seen from New Jersey. Decades later, in the mid-1980s, the museum did consider regilding Diana, but the time and funding wasn’t there.
Traces of gilding were examined by a scanning electron microscope to determine the exact composition and color of the original gold. The statue was then painstakingly covered with 180 square feet of 23.4-karat red gold leaf.
The Venus de Milo is missing her arms, but there are a great many ancient statues that were extensively restored, far more so than just adding arms, in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The whole statue was X-rayed and subjected to ultrasonic thickness testing to assess the condition of the molded copper sheets Saint-Gaudens soldered and riveted together. Because Saint-Gaudens disliked the use of very bright gold at eye level, the gilding was toned down to match his original intent.

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