The laments over the demise of the original Penn Station are so well worn by now that they have almost collapsed in on themselves like the original building. It was only last week that we were fretting over the failed protests of 40 years ago to save the damn thing. Was it really that long ago? Feels like only yesterday.
That is what makes the revelation that a tiny piece of the original building has been hiding in plain sight for decades now. Historicist and foamers rejoice. An old iron and glass entryway has been uncovered in the bowels of Penn Station by an intrepid reporter at WNYC.
TN has learned that this entryway–part of the original Penn Station–was walled off in 1963, when the above-ground part of the station was razed. [...] In the early 1990s, Penn Station underwent a major renovation, its first since the original building was demolished. That’s when workers took down the wall and discovered the entryway. “It was found exactly where it is now,” Arena said. “The contractor cleaned it, painted it and put in windows.” It is now a deep umber color.
As far as we can tell, the entryway went back into service quietly–no announcement was made about the salvaged piece of history. It’s safe to assume that a large part of the station’s 600,000 weekday travelers pass by without an inkling of its provenance. In places, the paint on the entryway’s columns is worn away from the hordes of commuters brushing past it, wanting only to leave Penn Station.
After at first doubting the report, an MTA spokesman confirmed to WNYC’s Tranportation Nation blog that the portico was indeed original, and as the picture shows, is somewhere in the Long Island Railroad concourse, the lower level section that is indeed the most depressing part of the third world station.
The discovery is fitting given the reawakening of a grand train hall on the West Side. Despite futurist plans, Amtrak recently revealed that it will be using much of the old Farley Post Office structure as the marquee feature an a Moynihan Station that we continue to pray—but doubt ever—will be built. At least we have our new old archway.