A tour of new Penn Station

The Main Waiting Room, as proposed, of the rebuilt Pennsylvania Station. (ReThinkNYC)

It remains possible that the Pennsylvania Station completed in 1910 and infamously demolished in 1963 – “We once entered the city like gods, now we scuttle in like rats” (Vincent Scully) – will be rebuilt to its original design by James Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White.

The new station would substantially resemble the old one, but the design of the old station would be slightly changed to accommodate differences in the way people live today – for example, pedestrian ramps with outdoor dining instead of automobile ramps carrying vehicles around the building, and a revitalized retail arcade between Seventh Avenue and the Main Waiting Room. The new station would fit into an existing panoply of McKim, Mead & White buildings, including the Amtrak Train Hall (the old Farley Post Office) and the Hotel Pennsylvania, the latter now being illegally demolished by the evil Vornado Real Estate Trust, which should be forced to pay to rebuild the hotel if its demolition cannot be stopped in time.

ReThinkNYC, under the direction of Sam Turvey, has assembled an admirable collection of recent images to display the virtuosity of a new Penn Station, if it is rebuilt. The images by Jeffrey Stikeman, Richard Cameron of Atelier & Co., and Nova Concepts, including a digital reproduction of the Main Waiting Room, which Thomas Wolfe described as “vast enough to hold the sound of time.”

Each image is accompanied by a vivid caption that orients the reader within the station complex.

Before this all can be accomplished, however, New Yorkers must halt the existing plan of New York Gov. Hochul to slightly modify the station, squashed down by Madison Square Garden, and surrounded by a phalanx of super-tall, super-ugly, super-empty new towers, the absent market for space in which has rattled even the cold-blooded Vornado criminals. More urban renewal: that’s what New York City needs!

But ultimately the people of the world’s city will make their feelings known. And then the gate will open to an unexpected resurgence of beauty and prosperity. The whole world will be impressed by what New York can do. Click here to see how it will look.

View from Seventh Avenue of ceiling of Main Waiting Room through clerestory windows. (Richard Cameron/Nova Concepts)

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, dbrussat@gmail.com, 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.
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8 Responses to A tour of new Penn Station

  1. Mike DiLauro says:

    Be still my beating heart! David as you know this has been an interest of mine for many years! Indeed, I have a poor replica of the old station on my O guage train layout. Unfortunately folks should come back to reality and take a peak at the New Yorker article from a awhile back about the owner of MSG / NY Knicks & Rangers. He’s a jerk and wouldn’t let this happen.


  2. LazyReader says:

    I say this with heavy heart , New York City will not be saved. Progressive policies that neuter cops and reward bad guys are but response to voter base. Years ago I wrote how low iQ groups cannot sustain a democracy or beneficial form of personal governance.
    Beyond that effects of mass migration pander as voter base. Average Hispanic iQs (most AOC voters base) are in the mid 80s, Sub-Saharan Africans 70s to low 80s. It has been tracked for 4-5 generations, and is effectively permanent. Only less than 3% of Whites and 2% Asians score that low. You can’t hand reigns of civilization over that 3% and expect long-term positive outcomes. Violence, fanaticism, poor decision making, inept financial literacy follow these brackets. Geopolitical stability and personal freedoms cannot survive average iQ below 90. Lock up and leave.


  3. LazyReader says:

    A quaint stroll thru NYC subways Inundated with litter, trash, needle strewn remnants.
    Recent news Alvin Bragg is bringing up charges on ex Marine who choked to death deranged man named Neely.
    Point is, this is Penn Stations future if it’s built. I emphasize If….

    Penn Station was horribly expensive to maintain even back in its heyday when hundreds of busy trains ran thru its corrudors….And originally the proposal was that a high rise building would be added to top it to seek rent attractive offices with direct access to it. Downscale market 60s midtown Manhattan and Historic preservation committees opposed projects. In current economic climate rebuilding Penn is financially unwise. Long Island rail carries less than Two thirds it’s passenger volumes, the Hudson tunnels which carry 50% nations train traffic are still falling apart.

    New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in a heap of financial trouble. It is more than $40 billion in debt; it has a $60 billion maintenance backlog….rebuilding Penn Station is mastubatory fantasy. Fixing subways, cleaning trains and city streets atmre far more important and fiscally responsible thing than extravagant train depot.


  4. Richard has been working on this for years. He just might pull this off. That will place him on par with Jacqueline Onassis who saved Grand Central. Imagine New York without both iconic Masterpieces of Entry. As great a city in our time as it is, it would be far lesser. The return of this grand civic gesture will be a message to the world that America recognizes her mistake and again, embraces beauty in the Civic Realm. Godspeed Richard Cameron!


    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s hope he will, Rodney. Much depends on it. An America without a functioning New York City is well nigh unimaginable.


  5. catherine says:

    “Before all this can be accomplished…” – this sentence is missing a verb. I am on pins and needles waiting to know what is going to happen.


  6. artandarchitecturemainly says:

    I hope the criminals who destroyed Penn Station and the Hotel Pennsylvania spent the rest of the lives in gaol.

    Art and Architecture, mainly


  7. Milton W. Grenfell says:

    Absolutely magnificent! Richard Cameron, et al, are to be highly commended.
    The eyes of a grateful nation are upon you.


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