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Vault Lights in Penn Station, NYC
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Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
Pennsylvania Station, 1938
Poster from for Pennsylvania Station's opening

View of Pennsylvania Station from Gimbel's
View from Gimbel's

View of glass roof over Pennsylvania Station concourse
Concourse glass roof
Penn Station (named for the Pennsylvania Railroad, PRR), completed in 1910, was an exemplar of daylighting. Sunlight streamed through the concourse's glass and steel roof and fell onto acres of vault lights set in the concourse floor, then continued through to the track levels below. The main waiting room was the largest indoor space in NYC. Penn Station was considered by many to be a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style, and one of New York's greatest buildings.
Pennsylvania Station being demolished in 1963
Demolition, 1963
Sadly, it was demolished in 1963: the struggling PRR, whom the jet age and the interstate highway system had badly undercut, thought the land was too valuable to justify its declining use. Air rights were sold, and Madison Square Garden now stands in its place. Its destruction is thought to be the catalyst for the enactment of the city's first architectural preservation statutes. The New York Times lamented, "Until the first blow fell, no one was convinced that Penn Station really would be demolished, or that New York would permit this monumental act of vandalism against one of the largest and finest landmarks of its age of Roman elegance."

These photos were all taking during construction, sometime between 1905 and 1915. The now-expired copyright was held by Detroit Publishing Co.; these images are now public domain.

Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"CONCOURSE"
Detroit Publishing Co. #071935.
Source: Library of Congress
"Concourse showing gates, indicators"
Marked "G 7520" on negative.
Source: Library of Congress
"Main Concourse"
Detroit Publishing Co. #30 X.
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"Concourse, exit to 33rd St."
Marked "G 7518" on negative.
Source: Library of Congress
"Track level, showing stairway and elevators"
Marked "G 7526" on negative.
Source: Library of Congress
"main concourse, track levels, stair entrance"
Marked "G 7522" on negative.
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"Track level and concourses"
Detroit Publishing Co. #071936.
Source: Library of Congress
"Track level, main and exits, concourses"
Marked "G 7523" on negative.
Source: Library of Congress
"Track level, showing stairway and elevators"
Detroit Publishing Co. #071938.
Source: Library of Congress

This group of photos were taken by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information in August 1942.
As work-products of the Federal government, they are all public domain.

Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"Crowds at Pennsylvania Station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"Concourse at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Train gate at the Pennsylvania station"
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for the trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress
"Waiting for the trains at the Pennsylvania railroad station"
Source: Library of Congress

This group of photos was taken by Cervin Robinson as part of the 1962 Historic American Buildings Survey; as work-products of the Federal government, they are all public domain.

Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"CONCOURSE FROM SOUTHEAST"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE FROM SOUTH"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE FROM SOUTHWEST"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC Vault lights in Penn Station, NYC
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress
"CONCOURSE ROOF DETAIL"
Source: Library of Congress