We announced last summer that we had at long last found the key and were putting the pieces together for the sequel series. Alas, the process has proven to be slow and tedious and our progress has remained in the development stage.
The encouraging news is that as the year winds down (and after a necessary hiatus in blog posts) behind-the-scenes activity here is flourishing and we're as busy as Grand Central Station. We expect to announce the plans for the series' return at some point in January. Stay tuned ...
Meanwhile, speaking of Grand Central Station, Bijou film maven and pop culture enthusiast Victoria Balloon got to wondering about classic films that prominently feature New York Penn Station and shares with us some interesting cinema history.
Even as they entertained Americans, lifting them out of the Depression or uniting them in the face of war, classic films did something unintentional – they preserved landmarks of 20th century American cities on film.
Once an iconic destination and symbol of the restless pace of America, the soaring glass and steel of New York Penn Station exists now only in film.
In the mid 20th century, there were two common ways to get to New York City: by boat (either a trans-Atlantic cruise or a ferry from New Jersey that gave the traveler a moving view of the Statue of Liberty) or by train. If you came by train, unless you came in from upstate New York or Connecticut, chances are your destination was New York Penn Station.
All told there were nine “Pennsylvania” stations:, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indiana, Newark (Hobart), and New York City. With some expansions and remodeling over the years, most of these Penn Stations are still in use as train and bus terminals. The Newark Penn Station, with its deco-styled hanging lamps and insignia of the Pennsylvania Rail Road in the waiting area, still looks much as it did when it was expanded in 1935 as part of a New Deal project.
Travel to and from Penn Station was so common that there are scores of movies featuring quick shots of Penn Station’s Seventh Avenue entrance, main waiting room, or the stairs that lead down to the tracks.
Bijou favorite. The shots of the Seventh Avenue entrance are real, but those familiar with Penn Station’s clock can tell at a glance that this Paramount film was done on a soundstage. The gates to the tracks are very well done, but the metal paneling never existed in the station.
The Clock (1945). The shots of the main waiting room and arcade are beautiful—but fake. Filming in Penn Station during the war would have been impossible, so the station sets were recreated as lavishly as only MGM could make them.
The Seven Year Itch (1955) if he hadn’t sent his wife and son away to Maine for the summer. Their journey to New England begins in Penn Station, with some of the best color footage of the concourse from the decade before its demise. It had to have been hot under that glass ceiling in the summertime—and it’s worth noting that the new Penn Station isn’t air conditioned, either.
the New York Times. Despite protests and pleas, the demolition of Penn Station went forward in 1963, and now Madison Square Garden sits atop the old site with the current Penn Station underneath.
However, it may be that the demolition of Penn saved Grand Central Station by making Americans realize the importance of saving historical architecture. A 1998 restoration in the ceiling of Grand Central revealed, under layers of nicotine and tobacco smoke, an astronomical ceiling mural in gold against a background of blue-green.
Still, the loss of New York Penn rankles many. There has been talk of rebuilding the current Penn Station by replacing Madison Square Garden with towers and turning the Farley Post Office (across Eighth Avenue) into a new train station, but the project is bogged down in red tape and a sagging economy. For now, NY Penn is an underground warren of corridors and half-floors laid out like an airline terminal. Only on film does the ceiling still soar and the light pour in.
Here you can enjoy an inspired homage to Penn Station as reflected in film by artist and curator enthusiast David Galbraith who took the time to assemble a montage of footage from several classic films shot at Penn Station before it was demolished or at studio recreations.