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Transitorium: 1910

Transitorium: 1910

New York circa 1910. "Pennsylvania Station. Concourse showing gates, indicators." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


Glimpses of glass brick

Visible until very recently, until the worn sections of floor that had exposed them were re-covered:

also, "Overlooking a wine rack inside Penn Wine & Spirits is a segment of vintage glass bricks, once a floor and now a ceiling."
-- Penn Station's Buried Glory (NYDN)

Sidewalk Skylights

That really is a sea of skylight as tterrace points out! You can see a portion of it in this previous Shorpy post here. What a great building we can't see!


The scaffolding design and construct is nearly as remarkable as the station itself. It's amazing what workers could do back then.


If the NYC Real Estate Developers would have had their way, Grand Central Terminal would have gone the way of the old Penn Station. Thanks to new Landmarks Designation Laws, The Municipal Art Society, people like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others it was spared the Wrecker's Ball. It is now one of the most visited attractions in the city. The Musee d'Orsay in Paris (built in the old D'Orsay Railroad Station) could have been rivaled by a saved Penn Station.

The Lee-Key Roofing Co.

The giant glass roofs of this era, in railroad stations, exhibition halls, etc. always amaze me. How, with the primitive sealing materials (tar, caulk, putty) of the era, did they ever keep the water out? Or maybe they didn't - even modern skylights tend to leak.


The floor sure looks like it's made up of sections of the sidewalk skylights we've seen in a number of urban streetscapes. If so, this must be something like the largest known expanse of them in recorded history.

The Glass Ceiling

Interesting to note that the various iron arches and pillars seen here were mostly a decorative element bridging the visual gap between modern industry and antiquity (through the doors to the right a loftier, grander hall existed also made of hidden iron, veiled with travertine).

The ironwork in the concourse did not actually support the glass ceiling as it appears to do. Rather an unseen exterior truss cantilevered from the outer walls, and the glass ceiling essentially hung from it.

The trusses can be seen in this image from the book "New York's Pennsylvania Stations." The station is under demolition in the mid-1960s. The photo is copyright by Norman McGrath.

Train to the tropics

This photo evokes a tropical feel, so out of place in New York. The architecture says palm trees and sunny skies. I never noticed that before, what a great photo!


To Dave and Shorpy, this spendid work of Architecture and so many others will never be forgotten. Many thanks!

Mean Shorpy

Making old New Yorkers cry (sigh).

What? No scissor lifts or JLG boom lifts?

Amazing how they constructed and finished off these massive and ornate structures with technology basically from the Middle Ages. Wood scaffold, block and tackle, rope, hammer and nails. Unseen are a mess of power cords, hammer drills, 24V Dewalts, hydraulic scissor lifts, etc.

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