PODCAST REWIND: Remembering the original Pennsylvania Station

PODCAST The story of Pennsylvania Station involves more than just nostalgia for the long-gone temple of transportation as designed by the great McKim, Mead and White. It’s a tale of incredible tunnels, political haggling and big visions. Find out why the original Penn Station was built to look so classical, why it was then torn down, and what strange behaviors the tunnels that connect it to New Jersey exhibit every night.

ORIGINALLY RELEASED APRIL 10, 2009

THIS IS A SPECIAL ILLUSTRATED PODCAST!  Chapter headings with images have been embedded in this show, so if your listening device is compatible with AAC/M4A files, just hit play and a variety of pictures should pop up.  The audio is superior than the original as well. (This will work as a normal audio file even if the images don’t appear.)

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The view of Penn Station from the roof of Gimbels Department Store.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

For this round of photographs, let’s focus on the inside of the station, shall we? To look at other shots pertaining to Penn Station, please refer to the original post from this podcast from 2009.

Images of the spectacular main waiting room and the classical Corinthian columns. Read here about something very mysterious and tragic which occurred near here in 1914.

Penn_Station_interior pennstation1911waitingroom

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

This is what greeted you as you got off the train and headed for 33rd Street.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Crowds await the arrival of superstar preacher Billy Sunday in 1917. Read all about his visit here.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

The interior from the 1950s during rush hour. Getty has a terrific collection of Penn Station photographs over the years.

Getty Images
Getty Images

From this angle of the waiting room (taken in the station’s early days) you can see a statue of Alexander Cassatt, Penn Railroad’s former president, in its wall niche. Cassatt, brother of impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, never got to see the completed station, as he died in 1906. (The station opened in 1910.)

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

From this angle, you can really see the relation of the train platforms with one of the entrances. Seems easier to navigate than the current Penn Station, don’t you think?

penn38

Here are a few ‘cleaned up’ hi-res images from the fine folks over at Shorpy, who have a bit of a thing apparently for old Penn Station. Go over to their blog to check out the rest of their work.

Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy

 

  • Fred Fishel

    A few architectual elements from the old Penn Station are on exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum’s sculpture garden. One is a “slumbering female figure that stood beside an enormous clock over an entrance. Each of four pedestrian enteryways were surmounted by a clock flanked by two allegorical figures representing time.” Day on one side, Night on the other. The museum has one of the Night figures. The sculptor was Adloph A. Weinman who, also designed the Walking Liberty half dollar that was minted in the 30’s & 40’s. The museum’s figure was salvaged from the NJ Meadowlands. Unfortunately the sculpture garden is small and funding limited so not much of their collection of salvaged architectual items can be displayed.

  • Patricia

    I can’t believe this was torn down!!!

  • Kait

    Help!!! What is the name of the piece of music with violin and flute played at the beginning of this podcast?

    Thank you to anyone who may know!