Lights, Camera, Demolition: Penn Station Recalled on Stage & in Pictures

The producers of the stage play, The Eternal Space, offer a reading of selected scenes at the AIANY’s Center for Architecture as part of a program acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the demolition of the city’s Pennsylvania Station. The evening will also honor unique photography of the demolition from some of the subject’s most noteworthy photographers. Following the reading, a panel discussion with topic experts will occur.

The program will begin with a reading of selected scenes from The Eternal Space followed by a panel discussion featuring notable photographers, historians, preservationists and urbanists.

The dramatic portion of the program will feature actors Clyde Baldo and Matt Pilieci, who will reprise their workshop roles. Playwright Justin Rivers has adapted his original script for this unique program.

About the Show: On October 28th, 1963 the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station began. The wrecking crews worked outside in the morning drizzle to dismantle a fifty-three-year-old architectural marvel. Inside, a construction worker turned photographer was running away from his past while an aging English teacher couldn’t let his go. Their coincidental meeting on that day began a three-year conversation over the value of old and new, as one man fought to keep the station standing while the other was taking it down. This is the premise for The Eternal Space, a two-man play that charts an unlikely friendship during the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.

Photography: Photography is a critical element of the planned stage production, providing the scenic background for the play’s dialogue. Research has amassed a catalog of over 500 never-published/exhibited photos from New York based-photographers. Contributors to the collection include:

• Norman McGrath, a renowned, professional architectural photographer whose work has appeared in every notable architectural publication.

• Peter Moore, a professional photographer known for his documentation of the Fluxus movement in New York City. His Penn Station photographs are a small portion of his commercially successful body of work.

• Alexander Hatos, a career employee of the Pennsylvania railroad whose photographic catalog offers the unique perspective of employee access.

• Ron Ziel, an internationally acclaimed railroad historian and Long Island native. His collection documents the station’s entire lifespan and includes images from his perspective as a LIRR commuter in the 1960s.

• Aaron Rose, an accomplished photographer whose images, the New York Times declares, “seem to caress the world”. He was virtually unknown to the photography world until 1997, when four images were exhibited at the Whitney Biennial.

50th Anniversary: The event will follow on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the original Penn Station demolition (October 28th). The loss of the beaux-arts building would invigorate the efforts of the preservation movement both locally and nationally. National legislation that followed would later be critical to saving Grand Central Terminal and many other NYC buildings. Plans for a new station structure are contentious points in the coming NYC Mayoral Election.


Norman McGrath, photographer

James Stamp, architectural historian

Justin Rivers, playwright

(Additional panelists will be announced upon confirmation of their participation)


Event Details:

  • When: 

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013
    6:00 PM - 8:00

  • Where: 

    The Center for Architecture
    536 LaGuardia Place
    New York, NY

  • More information: 

    Event website.

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