This past September, 2010, marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the famous Pennsylvania Station in New York designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. It was torn down in 1963, in an act of cultural vandalism that in my opinion was equal to the destruction of the giant Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
Adolph Alexander Weinman(1870-1952) was a neo-classical sculptor who studied with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and worked with Daniel Chester French, the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. He was McKim, Mead & White’s sculptor of choice on many of their buildings. But his best circulated works (excuse the pun) that you have probably seen without knowing it, were the Walking Liberty U.S. Half Dollar coin (a design now used on the American Silver Eagle one-ounce bullion coin) and the “Mercury” dime, two of the loveliest American coins ever made. . . .
The above two pieces are fragments of Penn Station. I took these photos many years ago, when the statues resided on a lawn in Ringwood Manor State Park in New Jersey. They were rescued by my former Congressman, Robert Roe, back when he was the NJ Conservation Commissioner.
Penn Station had four pedestrian entranceways, and each one had a big clock above it, flanked by Weinman’s allegorical figures representing time. “Night” has a cloak over her, and she is looking down and holding a poppy flower. “Day” has her eyes wide open, and is backed by a garland of sunflowers. The statues are made of pink granite, from Tennessee.
They were originally full length figures, but this set is missing the bottom half. Another of the “Night” statues is in a sculpture garden in the Brooklyn Museum, after being retrieved from a landfill in the Meadowlands of New Jersey. You can see what the complete statue looks like here.
And if you scroll down a bit at this blog, there is a photo of a complete undamaged set of Night and Day that somehow ended up in a park in Kansas City, Missouri. The whereabouts of the “Day” statue that was the other half of the Brooklyn Museum set, as well as the pair on the fourth clock, are unknown, and I imagine they probably were reduced to rubble.
About Penn Station from the Brooklyn Museum’s website:
“Taking up two entire city blocks in midtown Manhattan, from 7th to 8th Avenues and 31st to 33rd streets, the grand edifice boasted a 150-foot ceiling in its 277- foot long waiting room, which was inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla and the Basilica of Constantine. Comprising nine acres of granite and travertine marble shipped in from Italy, the building was lined by exterior colonnades that recalled the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome, giving it the appearance of, in McKim’s words, “a monumental gateway and entrance to one of the great Metropolitan cities of the world.”
These pieces are no longer at Ringwood State Park. According to this article from the NY Times archives they were moved to NJ Transit’s Broad Street Station in Newark.
For more reading about Penn Station, and some great historical photos, check
Thanks to my friend Jeffraham for the JPEG conversion/Photoshop work.