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Should Penn Station Be Restored To Former Beauty?

Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan used to be a beautiful terminal. It was designed by the preeminent architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White.

It was destroyed and redeveloped in 1963 into the Pennsylvania Plaza, which includes Madison Square Garden.

The main concourse of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York is pictured on April 24, 1962. (Library of Congress/Cervin Robinson)

The main concourse of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York is pictured on April 24, 1962. (Library of Congress/Cervin Robinson)

With Madison Square Garden’s permit to operate in the above-ground space over the station expiring, the owners want it renewed in perpetuity.

The opponents, including the Municipal Art Society of New York City, want to restore Penn Station to its former beauty.

They won a round in the debate when the City Planning Commission voted last week to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit to 15 years.

Four architectural firms will unveil their design for a new Penn Station Wednesday.

And the New York City Council is expected to vote on Penn Station’s future within two months.

Here & Now host Robin Young tours both Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station with Vin Cipolla, president of the MASNYC.

As New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman says, to pass through one is a gift, the other, a humiliation.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-James/1449471983 Richard James

    Rebuild Penn Station!

  • thegreengrass

    It’s beyond pathetic that they would let this amazing architectural gem be torn down. It’s a disgrace that this is the place that everyone thinks of as the great American city when its entire history has been littered with destroying our past.

  • puddingpie

    My understanding is that, while lovely, the original was not very functional – I hope that any new development would be both – like Grand Central!

  • Davidmbryan

    Tearing down the old Penn Station was nothing short of a crime. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, very near the current home of the beautiful Adolph Weinman Day and Night” sculpture that once graced the opening of the east concourse of old Penn Station. It is currently part of the Eagle Scout fountain at 39th and Gillham.  And no, you can’t have it back. To think a thing of such beauty had to be salvaged from the scrap heap!

  • http://othemts.wordpress.com/ Liam

    What happened to the plans to renovate the old general post office across the street from Penn Station as the railroad station?  Seems like a win-win for there to be adaptive reuse of an historic building and restoring the glory of Penn Station.  I’m not a fan of Madison Square Garden, but it seems to me a colossal waste of money to demolish and rebuild it elsewhere at this point, especially when there’s an attractive classic building close by.

  • Rich

    Spent several years coming into Penn Station as it currently is and passing through Grand Central on the way to work. What a contrast! A renewed Penn Station would be welcome!

    We arrive through a
    Hole in the ground. Termites to
    The job. Commuters.

    19 December, 2011

    http://camdenmuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/haiku-we-arrive-through-19-dec-2011/

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