It’s True, A Group Wants To Entirely Rebuild The Original Penn Station

A Serious Proposal To Rebuild The Original Penn Station

New Main Waiting Room Penn Station Credit: Jeff Stikeman for Rebuild Penn Station.

The National Civic Art Society has developed a plan to entirely rebuild the original Penn Station.

The biggest and most obvious hurdle to accomplishing the Society’s plan would be demolishing the many buildings that currently stand on the site including Madison Square Garden and a 34 story office building. Then the next question arises: who would fund such an enterprise?

As crazy as all this sounds, the actual rebuilding plan sounds feasible. You would just need all the corrupt politicians and greedy real estate entities to cooperate. That will almost certainly not occur.

But that doesn’t stop one from hoping. The organizers have an executable plan and want to drum up support among the public. Here is the opening statement from their website

New York City’s original Penn Station was one of the finest buildings ever constructed. With its vast main hall and soaring concourse, it provided a triumphant gateway into the city. Its demolition in 1963 was one of the greatest architectural and civic crimes in American history.

That wrong is all the worse given the current station, which is cramped, dismal, and hard to navigate. As the historian Vincent Scully said about the original station, “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”

We aim to reconstruct the original station to return it to its former glory. Click here to join our cause.

The video the Society produced explains more.

As the rebuild Penn Station group pointed out, New York’s greatest architectural loss occurred 54 years ago.

On October 28, 1963 the demolition of Penn Station began and three years later the majestic station was gone, its marble and debris trucked out in pieces to the New Jersey Meadowlands and used as landfill.

Trains still go in and out of Penn Station. But the Penn Station that replaced the original has nothing in common with the original but the name.

Main Post Office completed 1912 photo: Underhill

Directly across from the original Penn Station between 31st to 33rd Streets and stretching from Eighth to Ninth Avenues, stands the James A. Farley Main Post Office completed in 1912 by Charles F. McKim of the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White.

McKim also designed Penn Station, so it is natural that the Post Office has features and similarities that are reminiscent of the original Penn Station which was completed in 1910.

There is work underway to turn part of the Post Office into a new portion of Penn Station. As nice as that sounds that doesn’t solve the overcrowding problem and aesthetic concerns of what would remain – the current Penn Station

While the complete rebuilding of the original Penn Station is highly unlikely – it’s great that an organized and serious group of concerned citizens have made the proposal.

Now let’s do something about it.

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2 thoughts on “It’s True, A Group Wants To Entirely Rebuild The Original Penn Station

  1. William Burke, Jr.

    I think that rebuilding Penn Station in the original majestic, glorious design of McKim, Meade and White would be wonderful! New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world and commuters and visitors alike deserve to be able to enter the city in the grand fashion that would be provided by the original Penn station. The foundations of the original station are still there. McKim’s plans, over 300 of them, exist. With the aid of modern computer and building techniques I’m sure a rebuild of Penn Station is very doable. People talk about “modern building codes, amenities, etc.” I’m sure a new Penn Station would pass all modern building codes and amenities (toilets?) with flying colors. I hear this project would cost in the neighborhood of 3 to 3.5 billion dollars, which isn’t that high considering LaGuardia’s rebuild would cost 4 billion dollars as did the World Trade Center rebuild.


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