Aerial view of Penn Station, New York City, USA at night in the 1950s
© R. Gates -Staff/Getty Image
A lost gem. Penn Station, New York City
If this image of New York City’s Pennsylvania Station seems straight out of a classic film noir, it's for good reason. The photo was taken in the 1950s, just a few years before the US city’s beloved Beaux-Arts-style masterpiece was dismantled and then demolished, so that the Madison Square Garden arena could be built on top of its warren of walkways and train lines.
This original Pennsylvania Station opened to the public on 27 November, 1910. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to compete with New York’s Grand Central Station. For more than 50 years, commuters and visitors streamed in and out of Penn Station to take trains to and from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond.
When the building was decapitated in 1963, with only its underground network of tunnels and walkways left in place, the demolition sparked outrage. ‘One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat’, wrote architectural historian Vincent Scully. The silver lining was that the public response galvanised the movement to preserve historically significant buildings in the USA.