Response To Peer – Paulo

I was excited to see that Paulo was embarking on the adventure of writing about Penn Station, mostly because it was so close to the Macy’s. I have been to Penn Station only a handful of times (as I take trains in Grand Central), but I can vividly recall my excitement at seeing the enormous building, pushing my way through the double doors, and staring up at the huge, dome-shaped ceilings. When I hear natives of New York City sigh and nostalgically speak of how Penn Station used to be, I naively believed that whatever renovations the train station went through were new enough changes that everyone would remember the “old” Penn Station.  In my mind, I had the idea that modifications took place in 2010 and everyone was still angry about it. Paulo’s report taught me that it was in 1963 that the terminal had to sell the developmental rights to Madison Square Garden.

“The Old Penn Station” became a phrase on many New Yorker’s lips, as Paulo recounted the residents of the city reading the New York Times, with a cover that read “Farewell to Penn Station” on October 30, 1963. I could feel the frustrations of the past rising up from the paper, as an architect dejectedly wrote “one entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat”. This meant that every teenager, every young adult, every adult around fifty years old could not truly remember the “old” Penn Station, because it was renovated long before they had been born, or able to remember how the station had looked, should they have visited when they were a toddler. It made me smile a little to see that New York is united on some fronts, like being angry about Penn Station, even fifty years after the transformations had taken place. Still, it was nice to see the modern man (Paulo) explaining his opinion, that he considered Penn Station to still be a thing of beauty. He believes that the city is unique, and forever developing. While I was not around to experience the sought-after beauty of the old Penn Station, I am at a loss, half wanting to join the chanting voices of the old Penn Station, to remind the city of the artifact it has lost, while the other half of me wants to join Paulo and the new masses, that appreciate the city for what it is, chalking up the still-bitter New Yorkers as people who will not let go of the past. Paulo’s presentation made me think, and I truly appreciate the work that he has done. I know an incredible amount about Penn Station now, but more than that, I understand how vital history is to New York, even if this class sometimes tells us that it is not.

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