Penn Station: A New York Tragedy

Nada que ver, but just this evening I saw for the first time some striking pictures of New York City’s original Penn Station (above), a grand if imperfect 1910 entrance to the city, which was demolished in 1963 to make way for a charming little basketball arena (seen dressed up for Britney, below). The contrast is depressing enough to warrant a post.

I’d known for a while — as anyone who’s entered New York by train knows — that the cash-strapped Pennsylvania Railroad’s decision to tear down its original station and build Madison Square Garden was a massively bad idea. But looking through these before-and-after images (reproduced in the gallery below, thanks to Wikipedia), it’s hard not to feel deeply sad for the way we’ve so often resolved the conflict between narrow interests and great things.

5 thoughts on “Penn Station: A New York Tragedy

  1. Wow. What a terrible waste of a beautiful grand entrance to our largest city.
    I never realized how beautiful Penn Station was.

  2. I love the NYT editorial from when this happened:

    “Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

  3. A great loss of such beauty. I just found this after reading that Madison Square Garden has to relocate in the next ten years, so that Penn Station can expand and practically built a new station. So sad that this beautiful station was demolished in the first place.

  4. OMG! To pull down a beautiful old building to replace it with this monstrosity. I live not far from the MSG, it’s a real sore in the eye…

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