Archaeology at Penn Station

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Original staircase and railing down to Track 17 of Long Island Railroad concourse.

The website Untapped Cities has apparently been sending people out (or at least receiving reports from disparate individuals and then signing them up) to find parts of the old and beloved Penn Station in the bowels of the new and reviled Penn Station. The latest find is a staircase from the old McKim Mead & White station, whose lower levels – train platforms and staircases down to them – were kept largely intact when the beautiful structure was removed and replaced what people scurry into and out of today. “New Remnant of Old Penn Station Discovered by Untapped Cities Team” is a pleasant romp, especially if you drill down into the previous reports of Untapped Cities’ urban archaeologists.

Except for Governor Cuomo’s ridiculous non-proposal last month, I don’t think there has been any big news regarding the prospect of rebuilding the station as proposed by architect Richard Cameron. Untapped Cities should keep its teams going farther and farther into the station to find more and more parts of the original that can be applied to rebuilding it. After all, much of what exists under the rabbit warren is original and can be applied to keeping the cost of the project down – compared, no doubt, to the modernist proposals, which can be expected to bring renewal (that is the usual combo of ugliness and stupidity) to every aspect of what exists today – with the exception of bringing back what we once loved so much. The horror!

I recently discussed the latest developments, if you can call them that, in “Hint, hint: Rebuild Penn Sta.,” which links to an in-depth description of Cameron’s plan in Traditional Building magazine.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Art and design, Blast from past, Development, Interior Design, Preservation, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Archaeology at Penn Station

  1. Pingback: Archaeology at Penn Station – espacemodulaire

  2. Anonymous says:

    Send them to the meadowands to find the rest.


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