carajul wrote:Although its easy to look back and say that Penna Sta demolition was horrible, keep in mind that...
1. The station was private property, owned by Penn Central, and they could do what they wanted with it.
2. The heyday of pax rail travel was over.
3. It was prime NYC real estate and was worth an absolute fortune.
4. Penn Central was hemorrhaging red ink so bad it couldn't even pay the power bill. Sitting on all that $$$ real property was too good to just let slip by. The company needed the cash. By selling the air rights above the station they got much needed cash. I believe it was CEO Stuart Saunders that ordered the demolition. In addition to air rights, Penn Central also got 25% ownership of MSG - a good source of revenue.
One interesting unknown tidbit was that the Penn Central investment subsidiary company called PennCo had ownership % in many NYC landmark buildings. During the PC bankruptcy the court forced PennCo to sell the ownership in order to pay off creditors.
It was the Pennsylvania Railroad - not Penn Central - that orchestrated the demolition of Penn Station and
its replacement by Madison Square Garden (4) and the One Penn Plaza building next door.
The demolition of Penn Station began in the mid 1960s - 10/29/64 is noted as the ground break date for MSG.
Madison Square Garden opened in February 1968 hosting its first event on the 11th - just days after the
Penn Central merger which commenced on February 1, 1968.
Replying to your points:
1-PRR sold the air rights above Penn Station to make way for the construction of MSG.
2-The 1960s were a time of decline of intercity passenger rail service. US Government funds began to be used
to improve northeast rail services such as the acquisition of the Metroliner MU cars and UA Turbo trains near
the end of the decade. Amtrak was still some years away (5/1/71) from taking on most US intercity rail services.
3-Agreed - the location alone and its transit access made this very valuable.
4-The tax burden alone was enough for the PRR to seek relief of the cost of the Penn Station infrastructure.
In a interesting way "sacrificing" Penn Station spearheaded the rise of landmark preservation and may well have
saved other endangered landmarks - like Grand Central Terminal once was during the 1970s.
I recall reading that Penn Station was just 55 years old when the demolition began and as GBN noticed
that the upkeep in later years was not good and the deterioration was very visible on the building which
was originally designed to last for hundreds of years before major renovations had been necessary.
As mentioned commuters were the prime users of the facilities - they tend to use waiting areas for short
periods differently then intercity travelers would.
To this day the decline of the Standard Railroad of the World as the PRR was known by up into the 1940s into the
1950s and 1960s amazes me. The Penn Central merger as we all realize turned into a financial disaster - one "red
flag" should have been the animosity or dislike between PRR's Stuart Saunders and NYC's Al Perlman at the helm.
The "Wreck of the Penn Central" (a good book read) was not the way any railroad should have been ran...
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_Cent ... on_Company
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EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS