Weekend 194.1

Penn Station“Perhaps the hard truth was this: New Yorkers had never come to really love Penn Station. Charles Follen McKim, an architect rankled by the very skyscrapers, crowds, and cacophony that embodied modern New York, had designed a classical monument out of step with its own time and place. In 1939, Fortune magazine had ungraciously described McKim’s masterpiece as a “landmark from Philadelphia [that] squats on the busiest part of underground New York.” The Fortune article about the station, while affectionate about men like “Big Bill” Egan and station cats (two mousers), was otherwise grudging: “Pennsylvania Station affronts the very architectural rationale on which New York is founded by daring to be horizontal rather than a vertical giant. Many New Yorkers unconsciously resent the Pennsylvania Station for that reason…To sensitive New Yorkers the station’s body is on Seventh Avenue, but its soul is in Philadelphia…The New York Central Railroad, on the other hand, was put together in New York and New Yorkers think of the Grand Central Terminal as a native…it has the grace to be newer, more vertical, and compactly efficient in a way New Yorkers admire.” In short, the Pennsylvania Station was the work of men who did not love New York. It seemed that the subsequent decades—as even Penn Station’s grandeur had faded with grime and neglect—had done little to overcome that lingering native resentment. And so, the plans advanced for the destruction of one of the city’s noblest civic spaces and monuments.” — Jill Jonnes, Conquering Gotham

(1) About Fortune magazine…

Fortune had begun as an unbridled celebration of free market capitalism, but Luce had experienced a change of heart in the late 1930s. when the media mogul adopted an ideology of the social responsibility of business and the mass media. During the war, Fortune, which aestheticized capitalism for captains of industry, applied its ample rhetorical and visual strategies to sponsor an ideology of planning that openly challenged the philosophy behind the magazine.” — Andrew M. Shanken, 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front

(2) Conquering Gotham

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