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admin 02.11.2013

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.
Because it was dismantled over 50 years ago, many people are familiar with the grandeur of the original Penn Station only through photographs. The station was opened to the public on September 8, 1910 and the cost of the exterior alone was over $100 million. Seen from the exterior, the beautiful McKim Mead and White masterpiece represented a merging of modernity and classic architecture. The Pennsylvania Railroad knew the land the building was sitting on was worth more than the station itself. Without regard that a great civic wrong was being done, Penn Station was demolished between 1963 and 1966.
More than two generations of New Yorkers have lamented the loss and contemplated replacements to bring about a new edifice and station worthy of the name. The main entrance to Penn Station in New York City, which Colleen passes during her morning commute. It was the start to a perfectly planned day — that is, until my phone started furiously vibrating, receiving e-mails that had been sent over the last few days! We took our iced coffees to the front doors of Laura’s office and decided to meet again later to catch the 6:13 train home. This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it.

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Sign up for our monthly newsletter, covering New York City and the world of urban planning. May 22, 2013 — The Alliance for a New Penn Station welcomes the decision by the City Planning Commission to grant Madison Square Garden a 15-year permit to occupy the arena’s current site, setting the stage for the eventual creation of both a world-class Penn Station and a world-class sports and entertainment arena. Today’s City Planning Commission vote to grant Madison Square Garden a 15-year permit to operate at its current location reflects a recognition that our city and region need to address significant issues regarding the nation’s busiest transit station. It also stands in contrast to the recommendations by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who in March called on the city to grant Madison Square Garden a 10-year permit and create a comprehensive plan for economic development and transit in West Midtown.  Madison Square Garden’s benefits “cannot overshadow the physical constraints it places on the city’s infrastructure,” Borough President Stringer said in his finding. We strongly urge the City Council to respond with a solution that doesn’t permanently condemn the city to a dismal Penn Station when it takes up Madison Square Garden’s permit application next month. The Alliance for a New Penn Station believes New York City has a truly unique opportunity this year to re-envision Penn Station. To accommodate the incredible growth in transit expected in the NYC region, the alliance has recommended that the MSG permit be restricted to a 10-year renewal, which will give the city and state the opportunity to develop plans for a new station and arena. The Alliance for a New Penn Station is a consortium of civic groups, business leaders and individuals who believe it is vital to New York’s future to re-envision Penn Station and build a modern, top-tier sports and entertainment arena in Manhattan. The Municipal Art Society of New York has led New York City’s livability movement since 1893. Regional Plan Association is America’s oldest and most distinguished independent urban research and advocacy organization. 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. But according to the Pennsylvania Railroad, the owners of Penn Station, by the mid 1950’s, it was also grimy, outdated, in need of costly repairs and difficult to keep clean. It was replaced by a banal, claustrophobic, ugly underground maze also called Penn Station which bears no resemblance to the original, to cattle chute passengers to their trains. The Farley Post Office (also by McKim Mead and White) between 8th and 9th Avenues directly across the street from the current Penn Station is often discussed as hosting a remodeled station, but nothing has been done to bring those plans to fruition.

But we are deeply concerned that an apparent loophole in the commission’s recommendation could still allow Madison Square Garden to occupy its current site above the country’s busiest rail station in perpetuity. But a provision contained in the commission’s recommendation would allow Madison Square Garden to obtain a permit in perpetuity by striking a deal with the railroads that operate within Penn Station. Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association and co-founder of the Alliance for a New Penn Station. Madison Square Garden’s 50-year special permit to operate an arena on its current site expired in January. MAS’s mission is to advocate for public policies, private sector practices, individual agency and community engagement for a resilient built environment that encourages our city’s economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, environmental sustainability, livability and social diversity. RPA works to improve the economic competitiveness, infrastructure, sustainability and quality of life of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region. These conditions existed mostly because the Pennsylvania Railroad let the station fall into that state. Such an agreement would only require the signoff of the planning department, avoiding any public review of a deal that could permanently saddle our city and region with an overcrowded, grim transit hub. In December 2012, Madison Square Garden filed an application to continue to operate an arena on this site in perpetuity.  Renewing this permit could permanently block any attempt to improve the failing transit hub, freezing the station in time and making it impossible to safely and properly manage growth or capitalize on the benefits of that growth. A cornerstone of our work is the development of long-range plans and policies to guide the growth of the region. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed. With transit ridership continuing to grow, the disadvantages of permitting such a use in perpetuity are profound. Through our America 2050 program, RPA also provides leadership in the Northeast and across the U.S.

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