One of the highlights of the comprehensive exhibition, Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks at the Museum of the City of New York, is the collection of architectural remnants from New York City’s buildings, both lost and still standing. From a marble eagle head from the original Pennsylvania Station to original lime moldings from Grand Central Terminal and cast iron medallions from the Battery Maritime Terminal, there is plenty for architecture and preservation buffs to revel in.
To procure the objects, co-curator Andrew Dolkart tells Untapped Cities that they “visited several firms that specialize in the preservation and restoration of landmark buildings” to find the objects. Curator Donald Albrecht adds, “there are also building components from buildings that have been restored. There are tiles from Bethesda Terrace, there are old and new brick from Carnegie Hall, and there are marble panels from the Metropolitan Life Building.”
Without further ado, here are some of the unique finds in the exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks:
Original Penn Station Marble Eagle Head
22 marble eagles once graced the facade of the original Pennsylvania Station by McKim, Mead and White. Many of the eagle heads were salvaged by concerned citizens, rail workers, and educators, other sculptures would later be salvaged from dumping grounds in the Meadowlands.
The marble eagle head on display in Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks likely flanked the sculptural group Day and Night by Adolph Weinman above the entrances of Penn Station. It was saved by Albert Fritsch, a mechanic for the Pennsylvania Railroad, who allegedly saw it in the rubble one day before heading home on the train. It was displayed on Fritsch’s lawn for decades in Freeport, New York, and later in Poughkeepsie after his passing.
Dave Morrison, a Pennsylvania Station 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.” You can see it in person again at Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks.
Check out where 15 other marble eagle heads of Penn Station are located and take a tour of the remnants of the original Penn Station with us: