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Pennsylvania Station Faces Demolition

Jan. 24, 1964 - The hurried packing of wooden crates and paperboard cartons heightened the air of impermanence shrouding Pennsylvania Station today as employees of three shops and a newsstand tried to empty them before the wreckers’ jackhammers could swing into action. Tin-hatted demolition workers will arrive at 8 a.m. Monday, dismantle the store fronts, and begin to reduce the area to rubble. The demolition, which began Oct. 28, is a preliminary to the building’s redevelopment into a futuristic new Madison Square Garden sports arena, a 33-story skyscraper and a station that will be below street level.

Like a once stately mansion long neglected, Penn Station now seems to belong more to the past than the present. Paint is peeling off the vaulted, 150-foot-high waiting room walls. Darkened, barricaded areas are pockets of gloom. Madge Anselmo, a saleswoman at the Barricini Candy Shop at the station, confessed: “I’m going to miss this place. There’s always something going on.” Next door, at the Hoffritz Cutlery Shop, a salesman wrapping barometers in tissue paper cast the rare dissenting vote. He said he eagerly awaited his transfer to another branch store. “Business was lousy,” he said. “People with money aren’t riding the railroads — they’re riding the airlines.”

More than 200 of the workers in the station already have been relocated. Others have lost their jobs. Nearly all of the 4,500 who work in the station are expected to be moved — some several times — before May 1967, when the first phase of the redevelopment is scheduled for completion. Carpenters were busy today constructing a temporary ticket office on the train concourse, near the IND subway at 33rd St. Workmen closed the 33rd street ramp to vehicles early in the week.


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