Part of Penn Station is actually getting a facelift (woohoo!). Behind high temporary fences, a Roy Lichtenstein pop art sculpture, not too dissimilar from the one inside the Tweet Courthouse downtown, and a Keith Haring sculpture were installed. 33rd Street has been closed off for a car-free summer plaza called Plaza 33, hosted by Vornado Realty Trust. This comes just after the launch of a new extended sidewalk on 32nd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue, a colorful design by the 34th Street Partnership.
Tile from the Chambers Street Subway Station
Since the 1980s, the MTA has installed hundreds of site specific works of art throughout the subway system. These pieces of art have been designed by world famous artists in order to create a beautiful underground art museum for the millions of daily subway riders. The Arts for Transit program was a continuation of the philosophy established by the founders of the subway system that “every design element in the system should show respect for our customers and enhance the experience of travel.”
The original subway art, was composed of terra cotta and mosaic and often depicted scenes that once graced the surrounding neighborhood. According to one account, they served as a map for tourists and the illiterate. Here are some of the best examples that can still be found in some of the subways oldest stations.
Anyone who has walked from Penn Station to Herald Square along 32nd Street will notice a few incongruous things: homeless people, a Jack’s 99¢ store, the side entrance of Manhattan Mall, and possibly the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. But now, thanks to the In-House Design Department of the 34th Street Partnership, led by Ignacio Ciocchini, Vice President of Design for the 34th Street Partnership and managed by Columbia University GSAPP Urban Design graduate Alexandra Gonzalez, pedestrians will have a colorful, extended sidewalk.
The NYC High Line. Photo via NYC Parks
Since 2009, people have hailed the High Line as the savior of declining west Chelsea, a neighborhood that is now a burgeoning food and art gallery hub of New York City. Lying fallow for years as an abandoned infrastructural element above Chelsea’s streets and storefronts after being used by freight trains for twenty years, it became an overgrown meadow, an unusual sight in the city, and many talked of demolishing it for good.
Thankfully, efforts by the community and various organizations like the nonprofit Friends of the High Line campaigned for its renovation in the late 1990s. After years of planning and construction, the elevated railroad became an elevated park, attracted millions to its picturesque views, and revitalized the entire neighborhood’s economy and real estate. The High Line is an old-fashioned American success, and though its current form is one of the newest attractions in the city, it still has its fair share of secrets.
Our tour of the Remnants of Penn Station has been one of those unexpected hits. When we first launched it in partnership with the play The Eternal Space based on one of our articles, we knew that as city and architecture buffs, we’d be the types of people who might spend two hours on a Sunday exploring the most hated station in the city, if not the country. We’ve been honored and humbled that since February we’ve hosted hundreds of likeminded explorers on this tour–and we ourselves keep discovering new remnants of the original Pennsylvania Station each time we visit.
As reviled as the station may be, its complex and labyrinth nature tells so much of how the original was demolished and the new one built, and why there’s so much left to see for architectural hunters like yourselves. As plans for a new Penn Station are underway, awareness of these remnants will be the only thing that may save the original station from a second destruction.
After more than a year of readings (like at the Center for Architecture), and a successful Kickstarter campaign, the play The Eternal Space will have a run of 25 performances at the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row in New York City from November 13 to December 6, 2015. In celebration, we’ve announced tour dates of the Remnants of Penn Station through December. Our October tour will be particularly special, coinciding with the date when demolition commenced.
The Remnants of Penn Station are led by Justin Rivers, playwright of The Eternal Space, using some never before seen photographs of Penn Station sourced from the play and Tamara Agins from the NYC Department of City Planning, who addresses the present and future plans for the station.
The tour dates are (always on Sundays): September 20, October 25, November 15 and December 6. Tickets are available below:
Image via radiocity.com
When John D. Rockefeller, Jr., decided to finance the construction of Rockefeller Center in the 1930s, he intended his music hall to be the pinnacle of showbiz. He envisioned lavish stage productions not unlike the wildly successful Ziegfeld Follies of the day. People would come for a spectacle, and nothing less. It’s safe to say that Radio City Music Hall, the Showplace of the Nation as it was once hailed by the papers, has lived up to the hype.
Through years as a concert hall, movie theater, and a venue for awards shows like the Grammys and the Tonys, Radio City was and still is one of the city’s busiest tourist destinations. Its unique Art Deco design, uncommon for a theater of its time, and its iconic neon facade have become a symbol of New York to rival the Empire State Building or Times Square. Furthermore, its synonymity with red carpet celebrity have tied it closely to the engineered magic of showbiz history in its 80 year run. Here are the top 10 secrets we dug up about the place.