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Historic Resources


Update: Rendering Reactions

A few noteworthy comments we received on the rendering posted yesterday:

“We might be able to take the renderings a little more seriously if the one on the left didn't only show half of the Farley Building 9th Avenue facade. Obviously whoever drew and/or reviewed it isn't showing excessive sensitivity to the existing context.”

”Exciting. Details are details. Let's get it built.”

”details ARE details, and they are important. "let's get it built" is exactly the gung-ho-development attitude that got the original Penn Station torn down and MSG 4 erected in it's place. Let's not do that again.”

”I mean really, why does MSG need to move? Couldn't we achieve the same amount of train hall space in the gorgeous post office building without having to build a new architecturally dated glass monstrosity? And furthermore sticking an arena dome on top of the post office is going to be a horrendous architectural foul. If they must put MSG in the post office isn't there someway to make the addition blend into the current building?I do not like one single part of this plan."

"One used to enter the city like a god, now one meanders through like a mall shopper.”


McKim, Mead and White’s “Post-Modern Historical Society”

McKim, Mead, and White’s Penn Station Service Building (1910), at 242 W. 31st Street, was the heart and soul of the Penn RR’s operations. Today, with plans to reuse it for back operations, we can be cautiously optimistic about its future.

The Service Building provided virtually all of the critical powering services to the original Penn Station, including electricity, heat, light, elevator hydraulics, compressed air, and refrigeration. Currently it is largely vacant (aside from an operations control room) and a bit dirty, but, with its pink granite façade and plain pilasters, one can see elements of its former neighbor. Christopher Gray of The New York Times said, “if cleaned, it could be a post-modern historical society or a crematorium.”

According to Conquering Gotham, a history of the building of Penn Station by Jill Jonnes, Charles McKim was “aghast to learn about the siting of the station’s planned powerhouse. He protested to the PRR, ‘There can be no question that the construction of two steel chimneys of a height of 180 feet, in such close proximity to the terminal would strike a fatal blow at the new station.’” Little did he know that two steel chimneys were far from the greatest threat to Penn Station, McKim’s final major building. He never could have imagined that his service station would be the only survivor.

The Service Building is still unprotected, but the good news is that the Draft Scope for the Moynihan Station project indicates the Service Building “would be renovated and used for some portion of Amtrak and possibly New Jersey Transit (NJT) back-of-house operations to be facilitated via an underground pedestrian connection to the Penn Station Block.”

The building has been determined eligible for New York City landmark designation and National Register listing. Despite the plans to reuse the structure we urge the LPC to act so that its survival is guaranteed.

Read “The Penn Station Service Building; A 1908 Structure Survives a ‘Monumental Act of Vandalism,’” in The New York Times

Click here to see photos of the Service Building from the Historic American Buildings Survey

Click here to see our map of historic resources in the Moynihan Station area


Sad Tidings for Glad Tidings

Demolition has been underway for some time at the Glad Tidings Tabernacle, an unprotected NYC landmark-eligible church across from the Farley Building on 33rd street. Today The Real Deal has news about its sale:

“The Glad Tidings Tabernacle Church at 325-327 West 33rd Street has sold for $31 million, according to public records. The Romanesque Revival church, near Penn Station and across the street from the Farley Post Office, was built in 1868. The buyer is PLC Partners, which is building the 300-room Cambria Suites Brooklyn Bridge hotel. Demolition has reportedly already begun at the church. Earlier, the church had reportedly hired Konyk Architecture to design a residential tower that would house the church in its basement.”

The MAS has identified at least 60 other historic buildings in the area around Penn Station (click here to see the map). We are urging the city to study and designate unprotected buildings before rezoning the area and already requested to become a consulting party for the federal historic preservation review, known as Section 106.

Read The Real Deal “Church near Penn Station sells for $31 million.