Norm is taking a break from Thursday Doors for two weeks, beginning next week, and I think I’ll join him. I’m not sure if I’ll post anything instead of Thursday Doors, but I’m hoping the hiatus gives me a chance to add some new doors to my inventory. The ongoing construction project is cutting deep into my doorscurrsion time.
If you’re wondering about the title, it just means that before closing the door (pun intended) on these posts, I thought I’d go out with a bang. I have been saving the best doors from my recent trip to Baltimore – Baltimore Pennsylvania Station – so that’s what you get today. Once again, I’ve turned to the No Facilities research department (Wikipedia) for information on Penn (as it’s known) Station.
Penn Station was built in 1911 for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). As the PRR started to decline, so did the condition of many of their station assets. AMTRAK was formed in 1971, to consolidate passenger rail service in the US, and has always focused a good amount of attention (and its all too limited funds from our penny-pinching Congress) on the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) which is the heaviest traveled segment (and one that may actually turn a profit). As part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project, the station was restored to its 1911 appearance in 1984. Today, Baltimore Penn Station is the eighth-busiest rail station in the United States by number of passengers served each year.
Our research team also discovered a nice entry in the archives of the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP), which tells us:
“The present site of Penn Station was first occupied by the local Northern Central Railway’s Union Station. Built in 1873, it was enlarged in 1882 upon completion of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad line. In 1884 the Pennsylvania Railroad purchased the Northern Central’s Baltimore franchise thus establishing a continuous link among the cities of the eastern seaboard. The following year it completely rebuilt Union Station; but by 1906, the Station could no longer adequately serve the growing number of trains passing through Baltimore. The station facilities were called ‘primitive and inconvenient’ by the Commission to Improve Railroad Facilities in Baltimore.”
“Penn Station was built in a subdued Beaux-Arts Classicism style. It is approximately six stories in height and about seventeen bays wide. The structural steel frame is enveloped by granite and terra cotta on the exterior, and Sicilian marble, terrazzo and decorative iron and leaded glass on the interior. The middle seven bays of the building project creating a tripartite plan consisting of a center section with a wing at each side. The station has a low hipped roof partially concealed by the balustrade on the wing sections and the parapet on the center section. The ridge of the roof runs parallel to the facade. The ashlar masonry is laid in regular courses, with an alternating course of long narrow blocks at the ground story level on the wing sections.”
The station was originally named Union Station, but it’s location doesn’t allow it to serve all the rail lines in the area. This fact is one that I understand personally, as I had to take a small shuttle train to a different station, in order to catch a Baltimore Light Rail train to my hotel. During its early history, there were several attempts to relocate this station, so that it could serve all trains. These attempts failed, and in 1928, the name was changed to Pennsylvania Station.
I would normally stop with a couple of paragraphs from the NRHP Nomination Form, but I thought I’d add a little nostalgia for readers who are my age, and what must seem like a bit of science fiction for the younger readers. The authors of the Nomination Form thought it important to include:
“In 1957 the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company in cooperation, with Pennsylvania Railroad installed a telephone room on the east side of the station near the taxi stands. It was the most modern and largest installation in the country at the time, containing 17 booths, one with a hearing aid with push-button volume control. The room also had telephone directories from all major U.S. cities.”
Take that Internet!
As we enjoy our last week of Thursday Doors before Norm’s summer break, I’d like to thank the curator of the Internet’s largest installation of interesting doors for providing this opportunity to us each week. This is such a wonderful place to visit, to share and stare at doors from all over the world! I hope Norm finds a cool and comfy place to relax, and I hope Little Blue Frog finds a lily pad with an abundant supply of flies nearby. Be sure to check out Norm’s doors!
There are a few extra photos from the NRHP nomination form.