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Should Penn Station Be Restored To Former Beauty?

photo
This April 24, 1962, photo shows the main concourse of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York, photographed as part of the federal Historic American Buildings Survey. (Cervin Robinson/Library of Congress)The main concourse of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York is pictured on April 24, 1962. (Library of Congress/Cervin Robinson)Some of Penn Station's old glory shows through: original brass railing leading down to the track. (Robin Young/Here & Now)New York's Pennsylvania Railroad Station is pictured on Feb. 8, 1962. (AP)Madison Square Garden, which sits on top of Penn Station, is the round building in the center of this undated modern photo. (AP)Travelers wait for trains at Penn Station. (Robin Young/ Here & Now)Unprecedented crowds fill Pennsylvania Station, from wall to wall, Dec. 9, 1957, New York. Seeking alternate routes to their homes, travelers jam ticket windows of the Long Island Railroad. (Jacob Harris/AP)A hallway in Penn Station. (Robin Young/ Here & Now)The east facade of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York, looking south on Seventh Ave., May 5, 1962. (ACervin Robinson/Library of Congress)A modern view of Penn Station: Evening rush hour commuters look at their smart phones while waiting for trains at the Long Island Railroad area inside Penn Station in New York, May 9, 2013. (Mary Altaffer/AP)A large group of travelers gather around the gates leading to their trains in Penn Station as they wait for transportation before a long Memorial Day weekend, in New York, May 28, 1948. (Matty Zimmerman/AP)A modern view of Grand Central: Crowds gather as Grand Central Terminal kicks off its centennial celebration on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

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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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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