Essay On The Waiting Room In A Railway Station
Whenever my family took the bus from Union Station to Bakersfield, transferring to the Amtrak San Joaquin line to visit family in California’s Central Valley, the trains were nearly empty.At the time I was too young to understand Union Station’s untapped potential, which changed after I embarked on a career in urban planning and design.My mother, a native Angeleno, appreciated local history and culture and instilled the same kind of fervor in me.I remember going to El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument to light candles at tacos with fresh, handmade tortillas at La Luz del Día, and then crossing the street to marvel at Union Station’s painted ceilings and large, ornate chandeliers."Such opulent dimensions were not functionally necessary; the companies could afford magnificence and enjoyed their munificent role, as princes had in predemocratic ages," wrote Meeks in his 1956 book, In the mid-1950s, a proposal emerged to raze the station and construct in its place a home for the World's Fair — the so-called "Palace of Progress." That plan fell apart, but a new one surfaced in 1960, this one led by the Madison Square Garden Corporation.That project, detailed by the in July 1961 [PDF], made room for the arena by flattening the existing Penn Station and building an underground one instead.Chávez) into downtown and exiting at Alameda Street, near the grand entrance to Union Station.I was in constant awe of the building and the city surrounding it.
The city's historical preservation movement gained considerable momentum in the aftermath of the old Penn Station's demolition.
"The loss of the building was a great loss but it such an obvious loss that it helped the city in the long run," Robinson says.
"People suddenly realized that New York could tear down things it should never have torn down." The current Penn Station is certainly an eyesore, especially compared with its classic predecessor, but its own destruction may occur in the not-so-distant future.
In a editorial published just after the demolition began, Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that the city would some day be judged "not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed" [PDF].
Photographer Cervin Robinson captured the original station in a series of pictures taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey in the spring of 1962 (below).