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 Post subject: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:45 am 

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Title says it all:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperie ... iler/penn/


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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:59 am 

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Outstanding program with a lot of footage I never saw previously. I remember the destruction of Penn Station when I was very young. The loss of the above ground structure was labelled " A monumental act of vandalisim" by the NY Times. Final photos in the piece were of the columns and angels tossed into the Jersey marshes. I wonder if any remains above the surface and could be retrieved. The preserved eagles are distributed all over America.
Notable in the piece, was the rational for business over art, the logical decision to use the real estate for its potential value. But oh! What a sacrifice. Today, the city or state, would have purchased the edifice as a public mall, gallery, or ... something!

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:24 am 

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Richard Glueck wrote:
Today, the city or state, would have purchased the edifice as a public mall, gallery, or ... something!


Or, a train station......

I used NYP several years ago to ride Amtrak. It was packed on a Sunday morning. I can only imagine what the cramped concourse and waiting areas are like during the weekday rush hour.

It is a shame the station was allowed to get dirty and decay like it did prior to demolition. Even if you watch the opening scenes in "The Seven Year Itch" you see blacked out skylights and just dirt and grime.

Post-restoration GCT is one of those places that makes you just go "wow" as you walk across the concourse. It is stunning. I can only imagine what it would have been like to walk around a restored Penn Station.

O quam cito transit gloria mundi.

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2004 10:13 pm
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As tragic a loss as Penn was (not to mention the consequences of its demise are a borderline comical self-fulfilling prophecy of reprehensible planning decisions too evident every time I'm forced to navigate its pungent, labyrinthine bowels), its martyrdom was an essential catalyst for the creation of historic districts throughout the city which might not have happened otherwise. Noted preservationist Jane Jacobs, the silver-haired stalwart of that movement, compared the Penn protests not to a fight, but a wake—weak and without force. While notoriously tough to snag a New Yorker's attention, it's not hard to see how razing a pink granite passenger palace for that brutalist toilet of an arena accomplished what the picketers weren't able to. It's hard to imagine Lower Manhattan today if the likes of Jacobs, Jackie Onassis and others hadn't successfully swayed public opinion to disarm "power broker" Robert Moses from his schemes, such as stringing a 10-lane freeway through Greenwich Village, the SoHo cast iron district, Little Italy and Chinatown.

Also, some trivial history: Penn wasn't the first train station digested by the Madison Square Garden franchise. The original venue, founded by William Kissam Vanderbilt and the first of four to bear the name, overtook the former 23rd Street terminal of the New York & Harlem Railroad, which was relieved from its duties by the new Grand Central Depot in 1871 and the structure subsequently converted to P.T. Barnum's Hippodrome. The second and final MSG to occupy its namesake location was also of course a McKim, Mead & White project possibly rivaled only by Penn, and famously the stage for Stanford White's demise at the hands of Harry Thaw.

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:45 pm 
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Not only did I miss this show, I had no idea it existed. I'll have to see if I can catch it on demand...

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:00 pm 

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Ed Kelley wrote:
Also, some trivial history: Penn wasn't the first train station digested by the Madison Square Garden franchise. The original venue, founded by William Kissam Vanderbilt and the first of four to bear the name, overtook the former 23rd Street terminal of the New York & Harlem Railroad, which was relieved from its duties by the new Grand Central Depot in 1871 and the structure subsequently converted to P.T. Barnum's Hippodrome. The second and final MSG to occupy its namesake location was also of course a McKim, Mead & White project possibly rivaled only by Penn, and famously the stage for Stanford White's demise at the hands of Harry Thaw.


Not trivial at all! This a great example of the richness of New York history, and just one example of why I find it fascinating city (even though I flee for the suburbs each night).

I am looking forward to seeing the Penn Station documentary when time allows (grateful for my DVR). I am especially interested to see if they talk about the Tenderloin district pre-Pennsy.



Rob


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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:28 pm 

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They do, in passing - pretty much enough to give the impression that it was an area of squalorous tenements. Some old photos which look like what you would expect them to look like.....

Stock footage included of many different rail scenes even though the program is about the PRR - I even saw Georgetown Loop footage. The program was well done and worth watching.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:49 pm 

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p51 wrote:
Not only did I miss this show, I had no idea it existed. I'll have to see if I can catch it on demand...


PBS replays most of their shows throughout the week. I'm recording it on Saturday I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:01 pm 
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p51 wrote:
Not only did I miss this show, I had no idea it existed. I'll have to see if I can catch it on demand...


Lee--

The episode is indeed available on Comcast's on demand service (for the next five days). Under TV shows, by network, PBS, specials. Also in the HD on demand option, same folder path.

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:43 pm 

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I thought it was an interesting program that could have easily been two hours instead of one. I'm particularly interested in efforts to prevent the demolition of Penn Station and the effects the whole incident had on the nascent historical preservation movement, but by the time they got to that, there were only 10 minutes left in the show. They could have spent some time on the current efforts to convert the James Farley Post Office Building to a "new" Penn Station as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Penn Station on "The American Experience"
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:45 am 
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davew833 wrote:
I thought it was an interesting program that could have easily been two hours instead of one. I'm particularly interested in efforts to prevent the demolition of Penn Station and the effects the whole incident had on the nascent historical preservation movement, but by the time they got to that, there were only 10 minutes left in the show. They could have spent some time on the current efforts to convert the James Farley Post Office Building to a "new" Penn Station as well.
I agree fully with this. About 3/4 of the way through they hadn't even gotten to the completion of the station yet and I realized they would have to gloss over most of the history of the station. Instead, we get about 40 or so minutes of "let there be light to the day it opened" and 10 minutes covering the entire service history of the station itself (actually, maybe less than 5).

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