Penn Station

A Beaux-Arts Landmark by Architect Kenneth Mackenzie Murchison

Penn Station is a unique combination of a classic Beaux-Arts architectural design from architect Kenneth Mackenzie Murchison and a functional, adaptable train station that serves as the eighth busiest station in the United States. Originally known as the Union Station, named for the Union of northern and southern railroads that came together at the station, this 1911 ornate granite, terra cotta, and cast iron building is the third structure to exist on the site.

In 1873, the Northern Central Railway building built the first station, a wooden structure, replaced in 1886 with a hulking Victorian brick structure. After critics declared the station to be overcrowded, uncomfortable, dangerous, and unsuitable for Baltimore's booming passenger traffic, the station was torn down in 1910 to be replaced by a new modern station. The architect, Kenneth Mackenzie Murchison, had extensive experience creating railroad stations around the nation and brought a stylish Beaux-Arts style to the job. Murchison's design incorporated an innovative waiting area illuminated by three large domed skylights directly connected to the boarding platforms.

The Pennsylvania Railway Company took over the station in the 1920s and renamed it Pennsylvania Station to match the other Penn Stations along the line. The building deteriorated over the years and during World War II blackout paint was applied to the skylight and windows. This remained through the early 1980s, when a $5 million facelift restored the mosaic flooring, glazed wall tile, marble detailing, and the windows. In 2015, the station served more than 993,721 Amtrak passengers and even more of MARC train commuters.

Images

Union Station (1911)

Union Station (1911)

Photograph of Pennsylvania Station showing Charles Street and the Jones Falls. | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-D4-73431 | Creator: Detroit Publishing Company View File Details Page

Mount Royal Avenue (1930)

Mount Royal Avenue (1930)

Terraced gardens on Mt. Royal Avenue with Penn Station and the United States Parcel Post Station in the background. | Source: Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland's State Library Resource Center | Creator: James W. Foster View File Details Page

Interior, Penn Station (1983)

Interior, Penn Station (1983)

In preparation for Penn Station's 1983 rededication, window washers clean the recently restored lobby windows. | Source: Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland's State Library Resource Center | Creator: John Davis, Baltimore News American View File Details Page

Penn Station Restaurant (1939)

Penn Station Restaurant (1939)

Photograph of a seafood restaurant on the west end of Penn Station. | Source: Baltimore Museum of Industry, BGE.12818 | Creator: BG&E Collection View File Details Page

Charles Street (1939)

Charles Street (1939)

View of Charles Street looking south from Penn Station. | Source: Baltimore Museum of Industry, BGE.1708N | Creator: BG&E Collection View File Details Page

Penn Station (1929)

Penn Station (1929)

Photograph of Penn Station. | Source: Baltimore Museum of Industry, BG&E Collection View File Details Page

Charles Street Bridge (1910)

Charles Street Bridge (1910)

View of the Charles Street Bridge at Union Station, now known as Penn Station. | Source: Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland’s State Library Resource Center, mdaa229. All Rights reserved. Used with permission. Unauthorized reproduction or use prohibited. View File Details Page

Union Station, 1910

Union Station, 1910

View of Union Station built in 1886. | Source: University of Maryland, Baltimore County | Creator: Hughes Company View File Details Page

Street Address:

1500 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 [map]

Official Website:

Penn Station – Amtrak

Cite this Page:

“Penn Station,” Explore Baltimore Heritage, accessed May 29, 2017, http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/65.

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