6 Responses

  1. Lee says:

    All neat posts throughout the year.

    At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I would like to offer some alternative thoughts on the destruction of Pennsylvania Station:

    –It was only the headhouse that was demolished, not the actual railroad station. The most important part of the station is the trains themselves, not the building. The trains never stopped running, and continue to run to this day.

    –At the time the plans were made, in the late 1950s, the design of the replacement building was a good one. The new station was sized appropriately for the amount of passenger traffic expected, and it made good sense to build a sports arena atop a major public transportation terminal. It made money for the railroad that was desperately needed. The new dropped ceiling and fluorescent lighting were the popular style of the times, and everyday travelers saw the new station as more attractive than the old dirty building.
    Also, in more recent years traffic at Pennsylvania Station has grown because of the growth of distant suburban commuting areas and the transfer of several rail routes to it (NJT’s Morris & Essex Lines, all Boston through trains, and Hudson Valley through trains). Further, the LIRR’s Brooklyn terminal declined in importantance relative to Penn.

    –We cannot ignore the economic issues that were at hand. Passengers had abandoned the Pennsylvania Railroad’s long distance and local trains, and the railroad was losing serious money on its passenger service. Maintaining the station building was a costly burden, which included $1 million a year (in 1950s dollars) just in property taxes. The railroad had appealed to the government for some relief of these onerous burdens, but the government was not interested. The station building could’ve been saved had either the city, state, or Port Authority taken an interest.

    –As to Grand Central, in my opinion it was governmental intervention that finally saved the building. After the Supreme Court decision, the Penn Central, owners at the time, just did nothing. The building was not maintained, and as the years went by, the decay became more and more unpleasant for passengers. Unseen behind the walls was the weakening of structural girders and destructive water penetration.
    I believe it was the willingness of New York to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a total restoration of the terminal, which included expensive repairs of the structural problems, that saved the building. Without those repairs, the building would’ve eventually decayed to the point of being unsafe and demolished. A similar commitment would’ve been necssary to save Pennsylvania Station.

  2. Steve Barry says:

    All are excellent topics. And for the record, I find your fish-eye photos to be a welcomed change of pace from what one can find on many, many other sites. I guess of the bunch, my personal favorite was Commuter Life — you handled the topic with compassion and class. Bravo!

  3. John Lang says:

    Again all where great topics and all were written very well. My vote for number 1 would be the post about the Hopewell station and the rail trail. You made some very important points about the rail trail people and how many of them are pushing their goals without much regard for preservation that many volunteer railroads do. To bad that so many people today cop the attitude of “my way or the highway”. If only people could reach common ground. Anyway l’m looking forward to your posts for 2014.

  4. Al Brecken says:

    Maybe ,just maybe,if McKim, Mead, and White and the PRR brass had been more restrained in there quest for an impressive architectural structure that was a “symbol” of the grandeur of the mighty PRR, the Station may have survived .All that vast interior space was not necessary . By contrast , GCT is a marvel of compactness and efficiency.

    Hope this is of interest—-


    • Lee says:

      The issue for both stations was that the railroads were losing a great deal of money providing passenger service.

      Actually, the New York Central probably would’ve torn down Grand Central Terminal in the early 1960s had it not been able to build the Pan Am building and get revenue from that. Later on, the plans weren’t so much to demolish Grand Central but built an office building on top of it to earn revenue. But such a building would’ve still ruined Grand Central architectually.

      One key difference in the overall project designs by the two railroads was that the New York Central was able to sell much of the air rights over its terminal yard trackage; the Pennsylvania RR did very little of that.

      In Chicago, both the La Salle St station and the North Western station were replaced by office towers.

  5. Al Brecken says:

    Try again


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