The Demolition Of Penn Station: Losing Historic Architecture In The 1960s

By Linda Speckhals
An aerial view of Penn Station from 1910. Source: (Wikipedia).
Today, New York’s Penn Station is a confusing, unattractive underground maze of tunnels, but it wasn’t always that way. Up until its demolition in the 1960s, it was an architectural masterpiece, more grand than Grand Central, but it fell victim to progress, and by the late 1960s, it was gone. Penn Station, which was completed in 1910 and named for the builder and original tenant, the Pennsylvania Railroad, was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style and one of the most impressive buildings in New York. It included separate waiting rooms for arriving and departing passengers (it was one of the first to do so), and these were some of the largest public spaces in the city at the time. It stretched between 31st and 33rd Streets, occupying two city blocks from Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue. To construct the station, 490,000 cubic feet of pink granite was used, and that’s to say nothing of the interior stone, steel, and brick, or of the 30,000 light bulbs it used to keep it lit.