The design of Moynihan Train Hall is filled with many subtle nods to the original McKim, Mead, and White-designed Penn Station, but now, an actual remnant from that building is on display. Sitting in a glass case adjacent to the train hall, commuters will see a large stone eagle head which was once part of a full-bodied eagle sculpture that adorned the cornice of the 1910 station. We’ve tracked down the whereabouts of 18 complete eagles known to exist and kept tabs on this eagle head, affectionately named Albert.
Albert’s name is an homage to Albert Fritsch, a mechanic for the Pennsylvania Railroad who salvaged the head in the 1960s during the station’s demolition. For nearly three decades, the 45-pound head sat in Fritsch’s Long Island home in Freeport. Upon his death in 1992, it was inherited by his daughters Mary and Margaret. The sisters named the sculpture after their father and took it home to Poughkeepsie.
In recent years, the head has popped up on display every now and then. In 2011, it was part of “The Once and Future Penn Station” at The Transit Museum’s Grand Central Annex. Later, in 2015, the head appeared in the exhibit “Saving Place: 50 Years of NYC Landmarks” at the Museum of the City of New York and was seen at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. It has also appeared at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum in 2017.
Now, the head can be seen in a small display case inside the LIRR Ticketing Customer Service area at Moynihan Train hall, across from the entrances to tracks 13 through 16. The head is on display next to a copy of Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station Statuary and Sculptures by historian David Morrison. You can see the eagle head on our next tour of the Remnants of Penn Station on October 14th!
Remnants of Penn Station
In total, there were 22 eagles on Penn Station’s facade, 14 large eagles and 8 smaller ones. They were created by German-born sculptor Adolph Weinman. When the station was demolished in 1963, the eagles were scattered all over the tri-state area, and beyond. Two made it all the way to Kansas City, Missouri. The sculptures can be found everywhere from LIRR train station parking lots and upstate college campuses to a bridge in Philadelphia and the New Jersey Botanical Garden. Two eagles that once stood outside of our current-day Penn Station were removed in 2019 and it’s unclear when (and if) they will return. The whereabouts of three original eagles are unknown. Morrison theorizes that they may have gone to a dump in New Jersey with other remnants.
We have reached out to the MTA to confirm how long the eagle head will be on display and are waiting for a response.
Next, check out 5 Remnants of the Original Penn Station in NYC