An original Penn Station eagle at 7th Avenue and 31st Street
When the original Pennsylvania Station was demolished in 1963, much of the once glorious station was dumped into the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The 22 eagles of the station facade have remained an object of fascination, with at least 18 whole eagles that still exist scattered around the country. All of the eagles were designed by German-born sculptor Adolph Weinman, who was hired by McKim, Mead & White to do the sculptural decoration on Pennsylvania Station
Here, we showcase where those noble creatures have come to roost since the loss of the original Penn Station.
2 Eagles are still located at Penn Station
7th Avenue and 33rd Street
Though two eagles still exist at Penn Station, they’re located in a far less noble position compared to their original location, above the frieze of the neoclassical, McKim, Mead & White edifice. Two are now located at the entrance on 7th and 33rd Street, yet another is fenced in on 7th Avenue near 31st Street. [Update: As of September 2019, the eagles were removed by the real estate company Vornado. A spokesperson for Vornado let us know that the company hired a specialist to securely crate the eagles, which are being stored on site during the redevelopment. They will return back to Penn Station once redevelopment is done.]
Remnants of Penn Station
1 Eagle is at Cooper Union
Students and the dean at the Cooper Union petitioned the Pennsylvania Railroad for one of the eagles in 1965, after the demolition of Penn Station, because the sculptor of the eagles, Adoph Weiman, was a Cooper Union graduate. The eagle was located on Cooper Union’s New Jersey campus until 1973, when it was moved to the courtyard of another Cooper building on Third Avenue in the East Village. The school sold this building to plan for its new building at 41 Cooper Square, where the eagle was given a new home on the 8th floor green roof in 2009.
1 Eagle at Hicksville Train Station
Penn Station eagle at LIRR Hicksville Station.
One eagle is located at the Long Island Railroad Hicksville Station, saved by Samuel A. Goldberg, a Hicksville High School Latin teacher and his class. Inscribed in Latin on a plaque below the eagle are the words (translated): “A Roman eagle once urban is now in Hicksville, quite suburban.” Acquired in 1965, the eagle was designated in a grand ceremony where the students dressed in togas and carried Latin signs. In 2010, the eagle got a much needed face-lift, or shall we say “beak”-lift, and was redesignated.
2 Eagles at the Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point
Two eagles are located on the campus of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, in front of O’Hara Hall, a gymnasium. They originally sat on the 7th Avenue facade of the original Pennsylvania station. A set of two nearby plaque state that they are “symbols of our national heritage,” and that they were placed here on either side of the entrance to O’Hara Hall in 1964 and that “two of their mates now guard the main entrance to Madison Square Garden.”
2 Eagles are at the New Jersey Botanical Garden
In Ringwood, New Jersey, two eagles welcome visitors to the New Jersey Botanical Garden, also known as Skylands. They landed here thanks to Cooper Union, which had originally adopted three of the Penn Station eagles. Cooper Union ran a camp in Ringwood for a while, so two of the eagles ended up here.
4 Eagles are on the Market Street Bridge in Philadelphia
According to the book Public Art in Pennsylvania, the four eagles were given to the Fairmont Park Art Association and installed on Market Street Bridge four years after the demolition of Penn Station.
2 Eagles are at the NJ Transit Holding Facility Parking Lot in Newark
One of our most recent eagle finds have been these two eagles at a NJ Transit facility in Newark which sit in conjunction with portions of the Day and Night sculpture which was also on the facade of the original Penn Station.
1 Eagle is at Valley Forge Military Academy
This eagle was originally owned by philanthropist Walter Annenberg, who later donated it to the academy to commemorate the students and alumni who lost their lives in service of the nation.
1 Eagle at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia
One of the the alumni from Hampden-Sydney College, William Lashley, was a vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Some reports indicate that the eagle was located at the end zone of the football field at some point.
1 Eagle at the Smithsonian Zoo
Located next to Bird House, this eagle was also accompanied by a plaque saying it was made of granite. The eagle also appeared in the US Pavilion of the Expo 67 in Montreal.
1 Eagle in Vinalhaven, Maine
The eagle in Vinalhaven, Maine.
This eagle from the front facade of the original Penn Station found a home in Vinalhaven, Maine because the granite quarry for the original Penn Station was located here. Vinalhaven also supplied the granite for the Brooklyn Bridge and the US State Capitol.
Eagle Head Remnant
This remnant of an eagle head appears in the exhibit “Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks” at the Museum of the City of New York. It ended up in the private collection of a family in Poughkeepsie, taken home by a mechanic at the railroad during the demolition. Dave Morrison, resident Penn Station eagle expert, confirmed its origin and the eagle was temporarily on display at the Transit Museum’s Grand Central Annex in 2011 for the exhibit “The Once and Future Penn Station.”
The above eagles are mostly what remains of the “large” eagles on Penn Station. There were also eight smaller eagles, two which are located in Ringwood, New Jersey (shown above). The famous Night and Day clock sculpture with two smaller eagles, is now the Eagle Scout Fountain in Kansas City, Missouri. Other remnants of Penn Station are scattered throughout New Jersey and New York. In a New York Times article, Alexandros Washburn, then the President of the Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation, now director of urban design and the NYC Department of City Planning, spoke of the continuing lore of Penn Station:
”People–not governments or corporations or institutions–have been keeping the memory of Penn Station alive for 35 years. We’ve found threads from the fabric of Penn Station stretching across the country. Few buildings can inspire that continuum. It makes you want to reweave those threads.”
With the current debate over Penn Station’s future and the call to give New York City the 21st-century transit hub it needs, this statement continues to ring true. Join our next tour of the Remnants of Penn Station, which will include a stop at these eagles and many more wonderful remains:
Remnants of Penn Station