Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

The Construction of Penn Station and the North River Tunnels

On January 1, 2021 Moynihan Train Hall officially opens to the public, a new commuters’ wing catering to both Amtrak and Long Island Railroad train passengers at New York’s underground (and mostly unloved) Penn Station. To celebrate this big moment in New York City transportation history, we’re going to tell the entire story of Pennsylvania… Read More

Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

Uncovering Hudson Yards: The hidden history beneath New York’s newest destination

PODCAST All the history that came before the development of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s skyline-altering new project. Hudson Yards is America’s largest private real estate development, a gleaming collection of office towers and apartments overlooking a self-contained plaza with a shopping mall and a selfie-friendly, architectural curio known as The Vessel. By design, Hudson Yards feels international,… Read More

Mysterious Stories Planes Trains and Automobiles

“This hypocritical, swindling world” — One hundred years ago, a mysterious suicide in the halls of Pennsylvania Station

The halls of Pennsylvania Station, conjuring the grandeur of a Roman temple, would have created an otherworldly echo at rush hour on January 22, 1914.  Thousands of commuters hurrying across the marble floors of McKim, Mead and White’s steel-latticed terminal, rushing to arriving trains pulling into the sunken boarding area from deep tunnels beneath Manhattan… Read More

Odds and Ends: New Penn Station, ‘AIDS in New York’

The interior of Penn Station, 1935, by Berenice Abbott (NYPL) Enthusiasm is rising for the New Penn Station project, which would move Madison Square Garden from its present location and bring out the train station from the basement, a payback of sorts by the Municipal Art Society after the original Penn Station was torn down 50 years ago. A… Read More

Mad Men

‘Mad Men’ notes: New York City on January 31, 1968

A press photo from Hair, the hottest show in town in early 1968, photographer Kenn DuncanWARNING The article contains a couple light spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC.  If you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode.  But these posts are about a specific element of New York… Read More

New York transit system stymied by women’s skirt styles

A lady in a relatively normal skirt boards a Broadway streetcar in July 1913. Now imagine trying this in a hobble skirt! (Courtesy Library of Congress) A serious cry (mostly from men) rang out through the city one hundred years ago about the ever-expanding transit system and the scandalous style of women’s skirts. Were frocks… Read More

A good day to rediscover old Pennsylvania Station!

The crowds of Penn Station (with a sizable population of sailors!) making their way out of town via Penn Station for the July 4th holiday, 1944. I encourage you to click into the image and see if you can find your parents or grandparents! Courtesy LIFE Google Images. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the… Read More

Mad Men

‘Mad Men’ notes: The once and future Hotel Pennsylvania

From a Statler Hotel advertisement in Life Magazine, dated January 10, 1949. Click in to the illustration to read the text Every Monday I’ll try and check in with the Mad Men episode from the night before and focus in on one or two historical references made on the show. Spoilers aplenty, so read no… Read More

100 Years Ago: Queens and the influence of Penn Station

Pic courtesy Shorpy Over the next few posts, I’m turning back to exactly one hundred years ago, to contrast the beginning of 2010 with the events of 1910. New York City was in the midst of its Gilded Age, at the beginning of the skyscraper era, more confident as a worldwide center of finance, media… Read More

Picture Perfect: Irving Underhill captures New York style

Top: the Brooklyn Bridge in 1925. Bottom: Underhill on the boardwalk: the photographer captures a seemingly meloncholy day in Coney Island, with Childs Restaurant at right Nobody in New York’s early history captures the romance of early city life more than the first photographers — the men and women who wiled away with expensive, limited… Read More

Hallelujah! Billy Sunday comes to town

ANATOMY OF A PHOTOGRAPH An occasional feature where we take a closer look at an old photo of New York City, to give the image some historical context and piece together the situations that led up to it. I ran the photograph above on Friday in reference to the early days of Pennsylvania Station. But… Read More


Pennsylvania Station – Manhattan’s Missing Treasure

PODCAST: The story of Penn 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… Read More


The long-running, long-lasting Long Island Railroad

An early edition of the LIRR, passing through bucolic Brooklyn The Long Island Railroad has been around for a very long time. Last month, in fact, the central railroad turned 187 years old, almost as old as train travel itself. And it is the The official birthday is April 24, 1834, when the charter was… Read More