57 years ago on October 28th, 1963
Demolition begins on Penn Station, razing all above-ground structures to make way for Madison Square Garden despite outcry from architects and the public
The demolition of the ornate eight-acre site led to the passage of a city landmarks preservation act just two years later that aimed to prevent other historic sites from being lost without proper oversight.
Although the loss of old Penn Station is generally seen as tragic, the reality at the time was that the massive building had become too expensive to maintain as rail profits decreased, which led to parts of the building being hastily repaired over the years and some areas blocked off from public access. Relinquishing the rights to the above-ground station came with the promise of a new underground station at no cost to the railroad operators.
It was the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, formed as a result of the demolition, that would save Grand Central Terminal from a similar fate just two years later. In an effort to recreate the splendor of the original Penn Station, Amtrak is redeveloping a part of the nearby post office into Moynihan Station, an open-air train station that will have a skylight nearly the size of Grand Central Terminal's main ceiling. The new construction will service Amtrak and LIRR customers and is expected to be completed in 2021.