It is currently Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:31 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:53 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
One of the success stories of rail preservation in general is how, since the well-criticized demolition of New York City's Pennsylvania Station in the 1960s, city/regional governments have taken the initiative to preserve, redevelop, and "re-purpose" many of the grand, historic municipal rail terminals in North America and elsewhere. We've seen it in places like Los Angeles and Louisville, St. Louis and Cincinnati, Richmond and Roanoke.

Now, however, in a continuing economic downturn, many are now starting to question these efforts.

Two articles have crossed my news feed in the past two days covering this theme of such scrutiny in Indianapolis and Cincinnati:

http://www.ibj.com/union-station-gets-n ... icle/45090

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2013 ... inal-saved

I would suggest that the public is finally coming to the realization that preservation of this scale involves very real costs, and they are starting to ask if these costs are worth it--the Cincinnati editorial plainly suggests that maintaining CUT costs area taxpayers $10-15 per $100,000 of property value annually. (Were that every municipal expense--from traffic lights to maintaining a professional sports team to patching potholes--be calculated and presented to the constituents in such a manner....)

Any of us who truly work with preservation understand that custodianship entails continuing expenses, even when the object is simply enshrined such as 1401 in the Smithsonian. But this seemingly escapes a great deal of the public. Is this an "education" problem we should address?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:54 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I might argue that this is one example where we, the railroad preservation community, needs to be both more sophisticated and more aggressive (and education is a part of that).

In my opinion, part of what we're seeing, particularly in the case of Cincinnati, is that certain cultural and business elements think the station is an impediment to "progress," provided you define progress as "getting rid of anything built before I was born," and as a corollary, "We are now in the 21st century, when are we getting our flying cars/transporter beams/monorails/Enterprise 1701?" That is part of what drives the anti-streetcar faction in Cincinnati, which I understand recently had a pinata party in which the pinata was a streetcar.

That attitude hung around a while afterwards, but went into remission for a while in the 1970s thanks to the Bicentennial. But the Bicentennial is now nearly 40 years in the past, and we have some hungry businessmen who are looking for dollar signs, and they don't give a damn about history or anything else.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5IXlfJSEi4

Oh, and yes, the public, I suspect, is largely ignorant of what other things cost. Some try to take advantage of that, an excellent example being the trail people in New York who claim trails cost less to maintain than a railroad, even when their own figures in their own studies accurately show just how much a trail costs to maintain--but they never mention things like that outside those studies! They rely on the public not actually reading said studies. There is even a recent comment in the case of a rail trail/railroad debate in New York where a trail proponent claims the county paid $5 million for the railroad, which is an outright lie; the county only "paid" $1.5 million, and that was actually in the form of a takeover in lieu of unpaid taxes. The $5 million figure comes from a county planner who estimates the current value of the railroad at that amount.

The proponent could have easily said "paid $5 million in today's dollars," and would have avoided this charge I make. But I know he deliberately is trying to mislead people, because this very issue has been mentioned more than once in discrediting the memorandum of the county planner, and even that memorandum mentions the original cost as being $1.5 million.

This is the sort of thing we face. It's another example of how "We don't get no respect!"

Things like this are convincing me that my family and church raised me wrong, or at least didn't do as good a job as they should have. They should have also shown me how to lie, cheat, steal, and how to manipulate people. That's what seems to be what's rewarded in this world.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:57 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
Same syndrome at work in the U.K.?

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/l ... ure_fears/


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:30 am
Posts: 150
The redevelopment and re-purposing can go bad too. Here is a recent photo of Denver Union Station with redevelopment well underway.

Image

_________________
Glen Brewer
Railroad Glory Days
Railroad Glory Days on Facebook


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5250
Location: southeastern USA
I think we have developed a generation of business managers who drank the Drucker Koolaid about not being able to manage what can't be measured....but took it to mean "If I can't measure it, I won't do it." People are scared not of being wrong as much as of not being able to prove that what they do is demonstrably right, or at least not wrong, through calculated figuring of measurable criteria.

Cultural resources are by nature hard to measure, since the value and benefit they provide aren't easily definable much less measurable. So, do we measure the symphony or art museum by the total of tickets sold, or by the salvage value of their assets? None of this takes the impact in non-financial terms towards the well being of the citizens into consideration........

Historic architecture is much of what defines each place as itself and not any other place. What's the value of being demonstrably and visually Cleveland instead of a generic rust belt city? What makes your city's symphony different than any other since all play pretty much the same music? Who is talking about this in positions of influence?

We've done a bad job of allowing numbers to dictate the perception of reality and articulating the importance of intangibles.

dave

_________________
"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:28 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
The Denver project lands somewhere between Disneyfication and a bald mismatch of styles that is a repeat of those done in the passing architectural fads of the day..grafted onto timeless historical fabric..that eventually get ripped out when it does not age so well after the sheen wears off. Its a grafted nightmare.
Adaptive reuse outside of municipal use, is always a tricky business and as a valuation in relation to maintaining the character of it's surroundings or has a testament to faded past glory. The so called new Penn Station is an exceptional example of a faux rough copy that replaces what was and is irreplaceable. The replacement costs for a duplicate copy( same materials, etc) is astonishingly high or to build a similarly impressive structure at some future date is out of the question..Is the structure significant in architectural history or representative of a type? Its a hard sell whether it's railroads or butcher shops in terms of fitting a new use to even a significant structure, let alone a run of the mill example having many examples around. All of this falls into play in relation to the financial environment..theres no one magic bullet that fits all situations. As much as I for historic preservation, the fact that not everyone shares the same reality tunnel is not always a matter of simply converting the unwashed masses. Take Detroit's example in the midst of economic wasteland, the owner is replacing windows..and I cannot help but think this is shoveling sand into the tide...


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:19 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1883
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
The Cincinnati Enquirer piece seems to miss critical information in their own story. There is a data table displayed with the story listing other major museums in other cities.

The Cincinnati museum is labeled a "money pit" because it requires $180 million for 440,000 square feet of space. However, the data table shows that at $360 per sq. foot, the Cincinnati museum is one of the least expensive spaces of all the museums listed.

The Cincinnati complaints are emotional, not rational.

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
softwerkslex wrote:
The Cincinnati complaints are emotional, not rational.


I would make the case that, insofar as every museum's operation fulfills a purely esthetic and cultural function rather than a strategic, logistical mission in preserving life and liberty, EVERY museum's existence is based on "emotional" and not "rational" grounds. Every last museum or archive that depends on tax dollars to exist will be forced to justify its existence based on intangible, unquantifiable esthetic and societal benefit.

And when we're dealing with circumstances such as Detroit finds itself in--legally bankrupt but possessing a massive art collection that could easily be liquidated--we have to be prepared to argue our cases, to defend ourselves from fiscal and accounting critics, and justify our existences and/or budgets. Casting such opposition as "evil people that want to starve Grandma" isn't going to cut it.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:31 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1883
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
No, Cincinnati has a rational question. Anyone who has visited the CUT museums will agree they are the crown jewel of Cincinnati's tourism attractions, especially at Christmas. They are probably the only reason we have visited Cincinnati in the last six years for non-sports events.

So, tearing down CUT is fine, but where are you going to relocate the museums? What is the "saving" if you have not yet calculated the cost of building new museum buildings?

Statements and words matter. Note the public conversation is not about closing the museums, it is about "saving the station". I would argue many of those polled are subconsciously thinking that the museums are separate from the station.

The museum is simply referred to as "a tenant", as though it could simply relocate to some strip mall somewhere. Nearly all of the museum exhibits are custom fitted into the spaces of CUT. They would cost millions to reshape. Then there is the Omni theater. That would not be cheap to relocate.

Funding CUT is not about saving "the station", it is about funding the museum.

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:51 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
softwerkslex wrote:
So, tearing down CUT is fine, but where are you going to relocate the museums? What is the "saving" if you have not yet calculated the cost of building new museum buildings?

Statements and words matter. Note the public conversation is not about closing the museums, it is about "saving the station". I would argue many of those polled are subconsciously thinking that the museums are separate from the station.

The museum is simply referred to as "a tenant", as though it could simply relocate to some strip mall somewhere. Nearly all of the museum exhibits are custom fitted into the spaces of CUT. They would cost millions to reshape. Then there is the Omni theater. That would not be cheap to relocate.


This ties in, at least in my mind, with my earlier comments about how some people see this structure as an impediment to making money. They figure they can make more money tearing something down and building new rather than in restoration, even if the old building would be superior in many ways to whatever new generic structure that would get built.

I have this strange brain, and sometimes thoughts of one thing bring up other things. In this case, it's old movies on TV.

I would guess quite a few others here are old movie fans like I am. I can remember when TV stations weren't operated for 24 hours per day, and that they sometimes ran a "late show" after the news and before signing off for the night. What they often ran were old movies, some of which could be pretty bad but still fun, others of which were good even if low budget at the time, including in the 1930s, and others were A pictures that just happened to be old, like Astaire and Rogers flicks.

What stood out was the weird hours when these things would show up--middle of the afternoon between soap operas and the evening news, "Dialing for Dollars" programs, late night broadcasts, anything but prime time. Usually they would either be on private or independent stations or public television, rarely making appearances on network affiliates, which were running things like "The Tonight Show." Watching them, I wondered why they never did get prime time; a great many of them were better than new programming. And then it came to me--maybe the executives, particularly at the networks, were embarrassed by what their predecessors had done, or more specifically, they were embarrassed that they could not improve on what their predecessors had done--and so these classic movies were banished to fill local stations' need for material to run when there was no network feed. Instead of being what the execs had hoped would just be old hat, they feared the audiences would be spellbound again by "Top Hat."

At least, that's what I was thinking when I was 15 or so years old!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:47 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
Wandering off topic: Old movies sometimes had streetcars in them, and here in Southern Californian, several electric and steam-railroad cars were saved by becoming movie "props" (that's short for "properties"). MGM had two Pacific Electric Birneys that survived into the 1960s, long enough to be saved by Orange Empire. One of them, PE 332, had a cameo in the movie, Comrade X, starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr (who played a Russian tramcar driver--probably the world's most glamorous streetcar operator). I remember staying up late one night to watch this movie back in the pre-VCR era. Getting back to preserving railway stations, the Pacific Electric building at 6th & Main in downtown Los Angeles survived by being the local headquarters for Southern Pacific. After SP moved out, it "did odd jobs" as a movie location, and is now a residential property.

_________________
Bob Davis
Southern California


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:08 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4992
Of the five major rail stations in downtown Chicago, the headhouse of Dearborn Station was the sole survivor, existing today as the focal point of a upscale housing development built where the old train shed and tracks were once located. Recently, a photo showed up with the depots old clock tower surrounded by scaffolding. I worried that the tower might be in the process of being removed, but was told it was simply a case of tuckpointing. Good news, but an opportunity to install a replication of the clock towers original steep roof was, unfortunately, not considered. I'm not sure how well the occupation of leased space in the building is these days, but at least it survives.

Les


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:34 pm
Posts: 631
Location: Union, IL
Les Beckman wrote:
Of the five major rail stations in downtown Chicago, the headhouse of Dearborn Station was the sole survivor...


What about the headhouse of Chicago Union Station? Granted, the old concourse building is gone, but then Dearborn isn't preserved intact either. I'd also count six major stations - CUS, Dearborn, LaSalle, North Western, Central and Grand Central - though admittedly that depends on your definition of "major."

_________________
Frank Hicks
Preserved North American Electric Railway Equipment News
Hicks Car Works


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Municipal Station Preservation: Now Being Questioned?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4992
Frank Hicks wrote:
Les Beckman wrote:
Of the five major rail stations in downtown Chicago, the headhouse of Dearborn Station was the sole survivor...


What about the headhouse of Chicago Union Station? Granted, the old concourse building is gone, but then Dearborn isn't preserved intact either. I'd also count six major stations - CUS, Dearborn, LaSalle, North Western, Central and Grand Central - though admittedly that depends on your definition of "major."


Frank -

What survives at CUS is the waiting room, not the headhouse. Actually, there wasn't much of a headhouse at Union anyway, unlike the other 5 stations. And you're right of course, there were six downtown ("major") terminals in Chicago. I misremembered.


Les


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], ParisHill, Pegasuspinto, Rick Rowlands, T.E.P, timboshart and 50 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: