Places - Lost in Time: Pennsylvania Station
Hello. And welcome to the fourth episode of places lost in time, where we'll be looking at. Pennsylvania. Station, in new york. Beneath the surface, pennsylvania, station in manhattan, has changed very little since it first opened in 1910. However, at street level, the transformation, of new york's intercity, terminal, has been both dramatic, and heartbreaking. In order to save costs during its ailing final years, the pennsylvania, railroad, sacrificed, perhaps its most iconic, architectural, feat, the legacy of which is still endured, to this. Day. Prior to the creation of the various, tunnels and bridges that now span the hudson river, manhattan, island was connected to new jersey, and destinations, south of the city, by a series of ferry boats, the first of which was established, in july 1764. When america was still the 13 colonies of the british empire. This natural obstacle meant that access to new york was a slow and difficult, task, and could easily be hampered by weather conditions, or currents on the river. In 1832. The united, new jersey railroad, and canal company, or unj, and cc. Established, one of the original, 10 railway lines in the usa. This being the main line from jersey city to newark, trenton and philadelphia. As well as connections, to south amboy, and camden. Upon reaching the hudson. The united new jersey railroad, terminated, at several riverside, stations. The largest of which was exchange, place station. To connect with the polis, hook steam ferry service to manhattan. The world's first steam ferry operation. Established, in 1812. Exchange place station opened in 1834. And provided direct access to the ferry, which would drop passengers, in manhattan, on west street, adjacent to what is now the world trade center. However, this part of the city, prior to the influx of banks and corporate headquarters. Was heavily industrialized. With fishing docks abattoirs. And high-density. Tenement housing. As well as being a notable center for prostitution. In 1853. The new york and harlem railroad, established, a terminus on the west side of 4th avenue, between 42nd, and 43rd, streets, that being grand central depot. The station, which replaced an earlier 1837.
Built Harlem railroad, maintenance shed, was originally criticized, for being too far out of town. The main centre of new york, being around the original dutch settlement, in lower manhattan. However, grand central depot perfectly predicted the rapid expansion, of the city, and before long the station was sat neatly in the heart of midtown, providing connections, north and west, on the tracks of the newly formed new york central railroad. In 1872. Following a series of mergers, the pennsylvania. Railroad, acquired the united, new jersey railroad. Incorporating, into its network the main line between philadelphia. And jersey city. Now part of the wider northeast, corridor. However, the matter of providing a direct rail service to manhattan, in order to compete with the new york central, still eluded them and thus it became essential for the company to cross the hudson in one form or another. This situation, was replicated, on the other side of the city, with the long island railroad. Which was established, in 1834. To serve the rural townships, of long. Island. The long island railroad, much like the pennsylvania. Had no means of access to manhattan, and thus were forced to terminate, at long island city, on the opposite side of the east river. This was further hampered by the long island railroad's, near constant state of operational, loss, and with the company just barely able to stave off bankruptcy. The pennsylvania, chose to expand its empire into long island, by purchasing, a controlling, share in the railroad, in 1900. Together, the long island railroad and the pennsylvania. Developed a concept to build a station in midtown manhattan. And originally considered, a suspension, bridge, across the hudson, then named the north river. The crossing, and subsequent, station, would be situated, between 45th, and 50th streets, and would serve two closely spaced terminals, for both pennsylvania, and long island operations. Allowing passengers to travel between long island and new jersey, without having to change. Trains. The bridge concept, however, was quickly dropped, when the sheer cost of construction, made it unfeasible. And therefore a tunnel was considered instead. Comprising, of between two and four tubes, with a diameter, of 18.5. To 19.5. Feet. On february 13 1902. The pennsylvania. New jersey and new york railroad, was incorporated. To oversee the development of the north river tunnels, as well as the meadows division, which would handle the construction, of the north river tunnel approaches, on the new jersey side. Despite the protests, of the new york city board of rapid transit commissioners, and the interborough, rapid transit company. Who feared they would not have jurisdiction, over the tunnels, and would therefore become a rival to their yet to be completed rapid transit service. The project was approved by the new york city board of aldermen in december, 1902. With a proposed cost for both the tunnels and the news terminal station, being 100 million dollars, or 2.6, billion in, 2020. Following a general theme of prestige, in the railroad, business. The planned pennsylvania. Terminus in manhattan. Was to be a grand cathedral-like. Structure, inspired by the gar d'orsay, in paris. With charles mckim, of the new york architectural, firm mckim, mead and white, being hired to design the structure. Mckim envisaged, a station layout that would celebrate, one's entrance into the metropolis, of new york, with wide open spaces, and grand towering columns, in a manner derived from the public buildings of ancient rome, specifically.
The Baths of diocletian. The resulting head house, penned by both mckim, and pennsylvania, railroad, president alexander, johnson cassatt. Measured 1500. Feet long by 500, feet wide, with three floors open to passengers, and 25, tracks. As well as integrating, a new united states postal service sorting office, on the opposite side of 8th avenue, built in a similar grand design to the main terminal, and provided direct access to the platforms, below. In addition to the station and tunnels, a new train storage yard called sunnyside, yard, would be constructed, in queens, for use by both the pennsylvania, and the long island railroad. And used to maintain and assemble trains, prior to passing beneath the east river, on their way to form services, at the. Terminal. The construction of the pennsylvania's. Route through manhattan. Would comprise, of three sections. The tunnel sections between the hudson and east rivers. The subsurface, train station with ornate terminal building and adjacent, yards. And a looping railway, that would cut through the suburbs of queens. Across to randall's island at the hell gate, and then into the bronx, before continuing north towards new haven and boston. The latter extension north of new york, came about when the new york new haven and hartford railroad, better known as the new haven railroad. Applied for and received a franchise, to operate trains from the north east of new york to penn station. Via a new cord that would be built over the east river, that connected with the existing, new york to boston mainline from grand central. Depot. Construction, of the station began in late 1901. Following the purchase of land on a site between 7th and 9th avenues, and 31st, and 33rd, streets, known as the tenderloin, district. This district comprised, largely of high-density, housing, and thus the land value of the area was much lower, but meant that thousands of residents, mainly from poor african-american. Communities. Had to be evicted, and a four-block, area including approximately, 250. Structures, was, leveled. Following delays caused by indecision, as to the construction, of the post office, excavation, commenced, in june 1904. And tunnels were dug beneath the hudson and east rivers, while the gigantic, terminus, rose in midtown, progressing, simultaneously.
The Tunnels beneath the hudson were completed in 1908. Followed a year later by the east river tunnels. The final structure required to connect with the new haven's main line towards boston, was the magnificent, hell gate bridge, designed by austrian, civil engineer, gustaf, lindenthal. Which was completed in 1916.. Penn station meanwhile, was declared, officially complete on august 29, 1910. With the structure being opened in phases. The first few platforms opened on september, 8th, serving the long island railroad. Followed by the rest of the terminal on november, 27th. With the 25, 000 commuters, on the first day of operation. Being vastly outnumbered by the one hundred thousand spectators. Who would come to visit the enormous, train station. Pennsylvania, station truly was a fantastic, piece of architecture. Clad in regal sophistication. A giant glass and steel train shed, bathed the booking hall and waiting room with natural light, while the entrances to 7th avenue and 32nd, street, featured milanese-style. Shopping arcades, which hosted dozens of high-end stores and boutiques. On either side of the structure. Two 63-foot. Wide carriageways, from the streets, which were inspired by the brandenburg, gate in berlin. Served each of the two railroads, that used the station, the north carriageway, for the long island railroad. And the south carriageway, for the pennsylvania. With each carriageway, entrance covered by a 230. Foot wide colonnade. The waiting room was by far the station's most impressive, facet. A huge atrium, accessed by 40-foot, wide stairs. At the center of which stood a statue of pennsylvania. President, alexander, johnson cassatt. Later complemented, in 1930. By a statue of pennsylvania, president samuel rayer, directly, across from it. Finally, in january 1919. The station was presented with its own dedicated, hotel, as in common with many major terminals in the usa. Called the pennsylvania. Hotel. Located, on the other side of 7th avenue. Designed, also by mckim, median white, the hotel originally housed 2, 200, rooms, and today is one of new york's most famous hotels. Although demolition, of this structure has been mooted on numerous, occasions. The latest being 2019. In terms of functionality. Penn station hosted 21, tracks and 11 platforms. And was capable of handling 144. Trains per hour, while 1 000 trains were scheduled, every weekday, during its first year of operation. Of these, 600, trains were operated by the long island railroad. Working east through the suburbs, of brooklyn, towards the affluent escapes of the hamptons, at the eastern end of long island, while the remaining 400, were intercity, services, provided, by the new haven in pennsylvania. Working north towards new haven and boston, and south to newark philadelphia. Baltimore, and washington, dc. Among these were venerable, named trains, such as the broadway limited, that competed, directly with the new york central's 20th century limited on the overnight run to chicago. As well as long-distance, services, to the sun-kissed, beachside, resorts, of florida, and the gulf coast, including the silver meteor to miami. And the crescent to new orleans. Penn station gave the pennsylvania. A notable advantage, over the rival baltimore, and ohio, which competed with the company on the vital express link between new york and washington. But was only able to operate to its own terminus, at jersey city, on the opposite side of the hudson from manhattan. The bno, however, was allowed access to penn station during world war one, as sanctioned by the us government, but their trackage rights into the terminal were axed by the pennsylvania. In 1926.. Another notable pioneering, feature of penn station was the use of electric trains to serve the terminus. As the station was subsurface. There was a serious concern by the management, as to the ventilation, of exhaust fumes from steam locomotives. Inside the terminal building. But this was resolved through the introduction, of a low voltage direct current third rail system, which was used solely through the north and east river, tunnels. While the third rail system was unsuitable, for long distance travel, it proved to be a useful and efficient alternative, for the station itself, and was implemented, throughout the long island railroad, on its commuter services, east of new. York. As for the pennsylvania. They took the concept a step further, by introducing, 11 kilovolt, ac overhead, wires along its main line between new york and washington. Completed, in 1935.. This overhead wiring replaced the third rail system inside the station, and subsequently, gave rise to the pennsylvania's. Iconic, gg1, electric locomotives. That would be the flagships, of the northeast corridor, for over 40 years.
One Of the less known features of penn station was that it hosted the original greyhound, bus terminal, in manhattan. Opened in 1935.. The bus terminal, however, was poorly maintained, and fell quickly into decline. A haven for low-level, criminals and the homeless. Thus, the penn station greyhound, terminal was closed in 1950. And replaced by the port authority, bus terminal, located, seven blocks north. Penn station's, peak year was in 1945. Following america's, victory over japan, italy and nazi germany. As hundreds of thousands of people were returned home after the conflict. The station was the primary transfer, point for those coming back from the european, theatre. And saw 100, million passengers, pass through in that year alone. Unlike many public buildings. Penn station also had the distinction, of being superbly, maintained. With the pennsylvania, taking great pains to ensure that this icon of their architectural, might remain, pristine. A reflection, on the railway, service in general. Following the end of world war ii the railways, were faced with a harrowing prospect. After years of monopolizing, both long and short distance travel across the united states, new forms of transport were starting to emerge, thanks in part to the technological, advancements, made during the war. For long distance journeys, the development, of faster more reliable airliners. Such as turbo props and jets, quickly ate away the profits of america's, many overnight, transcontinental. Train services. On short distance operations. The growing influence, of the car as a form of personal transportation. Together with the construction, of interstates, and freeways, as part of the 1956. Federal aid highway act, saw the decimation, of regional and commuter, trains. With railroads, losing on all fronts, and passenger levels and profits tumbling year on year throughout the 1950s, and 1960s. The quality of the trains and services, became unreliable, and untidy. Rapidly, smearing the railroad, with a decrepit, reputation. Luxury, named trains such as the 20th century limited and the broadway limited, were axed, and the glamour of riding the rails had truly lost its. Shine. The collapse of the american railroad network struck both the pennsylvania. And the new haven hard. While the pennsylvania, scrambled for a merger. The new haven fell sharply into chaos as its regional operations across connecticut, rhode island and massachusetts. Were eaten away by the car, eventually leading to its bankruptcy. While the pennsylvania, railroad, could remain afloat thanks to the coal contracts, in pennsylvania, and ohio. The company was weighed down by the very structures that had helped build its august, status. Penn station, being highlighted, as the biggest culprit. Costs for maintaining, the gigantic, station building, had started to spiral as early as the 1930s. And the pennsylvania, was forced to cut back on general cleaning duties to save money wherever possible. As such by the mid 50s, the ornate pink granite exterior, had become coated with grime, while the 7th avenue flank of the station was sold off for advertising, space, and was now smothered with billboards. The once ornate boutiques, of the shopping arcade, were divided, up to make room for additional, low-end stores and restaurants. And in the main waiting room a large portion of the floor space was taken up by a new ticket office designed by lester c tishi. Known as the clamshell. Essentially, the station had become a relic of a bygone, era, and following the pennsylvania's, first ever year of operational, loss in 1947. From which it wouldn't recover. The company optioned the air rights of penn station. To real estate developer william zekendorf. In 1954.. Originally. Second off considered demolishing, the station building, in order to create the world trade center, a massive complex, of financial, skyscrapers. While the complex was to provide direct connections, between its new office spaces, and the trains below.
The Plan was cancelled in 1955. And the world trade center would eventually be sited in lower manhattan, next to the hudson. In 1962. The graham page automobile, company, purchased the air rights for penn station from the pennsylvania. And the company president, irving m feld, proposed, the development, of the madison square garden sports and office complex. In exchange for the air rights, the pennsylvania, railroad was allowed a brand new air-conditioned, train station, and a 25, stake in the madison, square garden complex. Consisting of a 28-storey. Hotel. A 34-story. Office block and a multi-use, sports arena. The announcement, of penn station's redevelopment. Sent shock waves across the architectural, world, and dozens of modern architects, demanded preservation, orders be placed on the ornate, station building. While both the pennsylvania, and the city government argued, that the terminus was far too expensive to maintain efficiently. Its defenders, stated that penn station was unique in regard to being both a fully functional public building, and an architectural, gem. In spite of public opposition, fueled largely by a campaign, led by the new york times, the department of city planning voted in january, 1963. To start demolishing, the station that summer, and on october 28th. The first bulldozers, arrived to tear down the structure. As sections of the station building were demolished. A giant steel deck was placed above the tracks and platforms. In order to allow rail services to continue with only minor disruptions. And all that was required was to direct passengers, around the demolition, work through the use of plywood walls and barriers. Through incremental, phases running from west to east, the grand station building was torn down, and the first girders of madison square garden were installed. With only the lavish 7th avenue entrance remaining by summer 1966. The new complex, finally opened on february 11 1968. Bringing an end to the beauty that was once pennsylvania, station. Another connection with old world new york, now severed. Forever. The demolition, of pennsylvania, station, received international, condemnation. With both the destruction of the ornate station building, and the complex that replaced, it being declared an architectural, outraged. Emphasized, further when pictures appeared in the new york times, of the station's former sculptures. Now rotting in new jersey landfills. Although some were later rescued by new jersey conservation, and economic development commissioner, robert a. Rowe. In its death though, came life for other magnificent, structures. None more so than its former rival, grand central terminal. In 1968. The pen central, formed through the merger of the collapsing, new york central, pennsylvania. And new haven railroads. Considered demolishing, the iconic station building. And replacing, it with a 55-storey. Skyscraper, at the end of park avenue. In the face of penn station's demise. Preservation, groups were determined to ensure that grand central did not share the same fate, and demanded, the enactment of a city landmarks, preservation, order. While penn central challenged the motion, the preservationists. Ultimately won out in 1978. Saving one of new york's most visited, and cherished historic, buildings. As for penn station itself, while the original structure is mourned, plans have been mooted for decades. As to a possible grand. Replacement. Escaping, demolition. As it belonged to the u.s postal service, the james a farley post office building still exists in the same ornate design, as the long lost penn station. Since the 1990s. Considerations. Were made that the structure could be bought from the postal service, and converted, for use as a train station, which ultimately, came to a head in the form of the moynihan, train hall project, led by the late u.s senator, daniel patrick moynihan. The new amtrak facility, within the historic, farley post office, will consist of new exits and a mezzanine. With ground broken for the project on october, 18, 2010.. This was followed by the second phase of the project in august 2017. Which will see the creation of a new train hall. And while this structure may not share the same grandeur, as the original head house, upon completion, of the scheme in 2022.
It Will certainly give at least a glimpse, as to what it was once like, to arrive at the palatial. Pennsylvania. Station. Thanks again for watching this video, if you enjoyed it why not leave a like and be sure to subscribe for more great content. Thank you very much take care and i'll see you next. Time.