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Bellows, Pennsylvania Station
- George Bellows documents the construction site for the majestic Pennsylvania Station, part of a process of modernizing New York City through transportation networks in the early 20th century. This project also involved tunneling railway lines under the Hudson River, physically connecting New York to national transportation networks.
- In Pennsylvania Station, Bellows does not celebrate the triumph of technology, but instead suggests the underside of the progress. This construction project displaced thousands of residents of the Tenderloin district, including African-American communities and recent immigrants.
- Pennsylvania Station was demolished in 1963 to make way for a modern terminal and Madison Square Garden. Outrage over the destruction of this Beaux-Arts building helped to create the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which now registers and protects significant buildings and sites.
This painting at the Brooklyn Museum
Photos of Pennsylvania Station from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
Explore lesson plans from the New York Transit Museum on the development of mass transit
Listen to an oral history about efforts to save Pennsylvania Station from demolition
The Rise and Fall of Penn Station at The American Experience, PBS
Explore an online exhibition about the construction of the tunnels under the Hudson River
Explore an online exhibition on the history of commuting and public transportation
Learn more about African-Americans in the Tenderloin district of New York City
Read a biography of George Bellows at the National Gallery of Art
Online exhibition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Carceri series of prints
More to think about
Compare Bellows’s Pennsylvania Station with this documentary photograph of the excavation project. What details are included in both images? What does Bellows add, or leave out, which suggests his more critical opinion of urban progress?