Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by andre
When the old penn station was demolished and MSG built ontop of the site, what did the "new" penn station look like???
were there 3 different concourses like we have now?
was it all centralized to one main area/layout?
anybody have pictures?
were longdistance/corridor train/commuter tickets sold from the same booths/agents?
what was the floor plan like?
did the platform/track level receive any improvements/upgrades?
  by Noel Weaver
A few changes have taken place in the trackage in Penn Station but these have occurred since the station was demolished
in the mid 60's. In the station itself the concourse area is almost the same except for the high overhead and as I have said
more than once the old one was pretty dirty at best. The seventh avenue entrance was level with the street and you walked
down a concourse until you came to stairs and escalators down to the level of the concourse and waiting areas which are at
the same level as they are now. The gate arrangement is just about the same too. If you knew your way around the Penn
Station of the past, you did fine after the job was finished. Between the start and the finish was a different story, things
were in different places and many areas were closed off as well. Much stuff was temporary.
The ticket windows were more or less in the general area where the present information booth for Amtrak is located and
they went clear across the entire area. The information booth was at the base of the escalators leading up to the concourse
to 7th Avenue. The crew register room was in an area closer to the entrance to the 8th Avenue Subway on the main level.
This got moved several times before it reached its present location although the locker room was always where it presently
is and indeed the last time I was in there several years ago the men's lavatory still had much of the original work and
fixtures too. The demolition did not reach down to this level for every last thing. The locker room changed in various ways
but the lavatory did not. The RR YMCA was on the fourth (I think) floor in the old station and was moved to the same level
as the locker room when the job was finished although for a period it was off the property too. I don't think the RR YMCA is
even there today.
The Long Island area is not changed very much and the subway entrances for the most part are as they were before the job
took place although the passageway to the 6th Avenue Subway has been closed for some time.
They had to close down one platform at a time do to the pilings and supports and this meant two tracks at a time were not
able to be used for this work. I don't recall more than one platform being OOS at any one time. It was pretty amazing that
they were able to maintain pretty much normal schedules during all of this work. I don't think there were nearly as many
trains here as there is today but there were a lot more long haul trains as well as a considerable amount of US MAIL traffic
through this facility and it all had to be accomodated and it was by both the Pennsylvania and the New Haven.
This is about as much as comes to mind right now.
Noel Weaver
  by andre
ok so basically i can picture the facilities such as the T&E lounge and other offices on the NJT level under the amtrak concourse/waiting area, but im really trying to get an image of the overall appearance once the construction finished like lets say i walked in through the 7th avenue "main" entrance so there would be a longer corridor instead of going directly down a flight of stairs, basically leading to where the escalators are by the old taxi area under msg, was the waiting room similar to how amtrak has it now with the waiting area in the middle and concourse around it,
are there any books that have images of the station when it opened or newspaper articles

(so much effort has been put into preserving "historic" images of GCT and other stations and the old Penn over the times but we dont see much on the current station which has such a colorful history around it)

also did the LIRR concourse of the station remain "untouched" because it was already under ownership by the state of ny by this time?
  by JimBoylan
About Aug. 21, 1968, the left hand ticket window (No. 1?) sold New Haven RR tickets only. Some of the other windows sold PRR tickets only, while others had signs that said "Tickets and Reservations".
  by andre
were nh and prr commuter tickets sold from the same windows as through/ld/corridor trains?
  by Noel Weaver
Only the PRR and the LIRR operated commuter services out of Penn Station and their ticket offices were separate.
When the ticket office was in its final location on the west wall of the grand hall, it sold tickets for both the New Haven and
the Pennsylvania. Before that facility was completed in 1957 the ticket office was on the south side of this same area and
there were separate windows for the Pennsylvania and the New Haven and maybe the Lehigh Valley as well as they still
operated out of there at that time.
Noel Weaver
  by andre
WOW, i never knew that the LV ever opperated out of penn, (i read about the B&O running a few trains to penn during WWII)

what was the color scheme of the station like, was it similar to how the hilton passageway is or something that resembled a PRR inspired scheme
  by Tommy Meehan
andre wrote:WOW, i never knew that the LV ever opperated out of penn, (i read about the B&O running a few trains to penn during WWII).
The Lehigh Valley operated their passenger trains -- at one point about 10 a day I think -- to Pennsylvania Station from 1918 until their passenger service ended in Feb.1961.

Baltimore & Ohio ran there from 1918 to 1926.

It was during the period the railroads were under WWI wartime control of the United States Railway Adminstration when the B&O and LV trains moved in.
  by andre
hmm very interesting, on saturday when i go up to danbury railway museum ill have to talk to a few of the former new haven engineers that made the runs into penn during the period.
  by R36 Combine Coach
What was the configuration of Penn Station between 1964 and 1968 when the old structure was in the stages of demolition and new construction was on going? Were temporary interim facilities used as the whole station was a construction zone?
  by Noel Weaver
There were a lot of areas that had to be closed off for construction. Temporary passages and stairways. They put out a couple of leaflets describing some of this activity. The gate area was more or less the last place that got demolished from the old station and much of the activity centered in this general area.
There was nowhere near the train traffic in and out of Penn Station at that time as there is today and during the construction a platform would have to be closed off so that piles could be driven and beams constructed. This knocked out two tracks at a time but things still moved. This whole job was a marvel of engineering and construction and it was amazing that normal train service was carried out all through the construction.
Noel Weaver
  by andre
on some of the gates on the LIRR concourse the railings on the stairways leading down to the platforms particularly those on track 17 for example seem to be original to the old station would i be correct?

also in the new station once complete was the LIRR and PENN/PC separated like it is now or did they have one general concourse
  by Noel Weaver
Yes, I think some of the original hand rails are probably still in place, much of the stuff on the platforms is from the original facility and certainally hand rails qualify on this.
As for the layout of the Long Island section, it is pretty much the same as it was during the original station, of course there have been a few changes over the years but they are generally the result of changes since the big job in the 60's. One difference is the escalators from the concourse leading off 7th Avenue down to the LIRR area, they were not there in the old days.
We need to remember that there have really been only two major changes to the track layout since the place was first built:
1. The extension of the tracks in "B" Yard west to the LIRR West Side Yard, originally "B" Yard was strictly LIRR and deadended opposite the end of "A" Yard south of the "X" tracks leading to the North River Tunnels.
2. The extension of track 4A to the Empire Tunnel. Originally 4A was just another track in A Yard used to store cars on, occasionally it would be used when a New Haven motor had to be switched out for some reason. The track immediately to the north of the Empire Connection is 5A which was for a long time the regular track for lay up of New Haven Railroad motors and there was a person there to check out the motors for needed running repairs and to put boiler water in them as needed. This employee was PRR employee but the New Haven paid the cost of having him there. In the early 60's the New Haven abolished the job and after that if water was needed in Penn Station the fireman had to put the water in the engine with the hose there and was paid an hour for this job. Most of the time the engines would make the round trip on a tank of water and we did not have to water them there. The needed for steam and thus water did not go away with the ending of the use of steam locomotives in passenger operations.
Noel Weaver
  by andre
as always noel an informative and knowledgeable input and i thank you

thats interesting that the empire track was an old storage track

also was there a large departure/arrival board like there is now on the main concourse (similar to the one in newark penn)
  by Noel Weaver
andre wrote:as always noel an informative and knowledgeable input and i thank you

thats interesting that the empire track was an old storage track

also was there a large departure/arrival board like there is now on the main concourse (similar to the one in newark penn)
There was an arrival board in the incoming level one flight down from the main departure level. I don't know if there is still one in the area but in the 70's and 80's there was.
Noel Weaver