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[personal profile] jack_calls_dances
On my way on the train from DC to Boston....just left NY Penn Station. The few times I've gone in and out of Penn have all been since I read Conquering Gothem, a fabulous history of the building of Penn Station and, even more impressively, the building of the tunnels to get there. (If you want to read some reviews, of it, have a look at Amazon.

The engineering knowledge that went into building the tunnels that just took me from NJ to Penn just blows my mind. The tunnels were designed to "float" in the sandy, wet dirt under the river so that they actually move up and down slightly depending on the tide.

At the time, there was great debate about what should be done. Do you tie the tunnels down and take a chance that they would shear right off from the stresses caused by the tide, or allow them to "float" and have much less control over their motion. In the end, they made the decision to let them float, and, close to 100 years later, they're still carrying trains.

Then, there's the station itself. The original Penn Statioin was designed as an awe inspiring temple to railroads and transportation. Marble, vaulted ceilings massive columns all around it. I really wish I could have seen it in person, instead of in pictures. (If you've never seen pictures of the building, check out google images or your favorite image search)

Unfortunatetly, though it was designed to be a monument for the ages, less than 50 years afterr it was built, it was decided that the street level property was entirely too valuable. So they tore down an amazing building, and in it's place built....a box (otherwise known as Madison Square Garden.)

I love trains....have for most of my life, and don't get to ride them as often as I would like. I also love seeing old train stations that have been saved. Durham's is long gone. For most of the time I've been in Durham, we've had the "Amshack" -- a "temporary" building, that lasted for something like 10 years. Now Durham has opened a new station in the back of the old Liggett & Meyers tobacco buildings, in the final section of West Village. If we cant' have the original station, I figure having a new station in an old building is a close second.
Greensboro restored it's old Southern Railway station a few years ago. It's definitely in the marble column style of architecture, and it looks great. Salisbury has also restored it's original station, complete with central tower, and Richmond's Main Street station can be seen from the interstate, just to the east of the overrpass as you come into downtown. Three very distinct styles of building, but all easily identified as train stations. It's a style of building that really isn't being built anymore, and it's too bad we don't have more of them left.

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February 2013

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