The Biggest Railroad Station in the World.


The Pennsylvania Station on Manhattan Island -
To Cost $100,000,000, or One Dollar and Twenty-five Cents for Every Man, Woman, and Child in the United States - Can Handle the Entire Population of North America in One Year.

Yes, the biggest of the hundred great terminal stations of the world." Thus spoke President Cassatt, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in reply to my question as to whether he " would call it the biggest."

Mastodonic in area, of course, and multimillioned in cost and yearly passenger capacity is this new depot," the largest of the more than one hundred thousand railway stations of civilization. It is the Pennsylvania's new terminal in the heart of New York. The general progress of the whole country made necessary this Titanic structure for passenger traffic, and hence the traveling public will accept it as a matter of course.

 A Giant of Giants.

Railroad men, however, see it with eyes more specific, regarding it as a monument erected by the far-seeing administration of President A. J. Cassatt. The new station is one-third larger than the present largest station in the world - Liverpool Street Station, London; one-half larger than the present largest station in the United States-South Station, Boston; and one-quarter larger than the new Grand Central Station now building for the New York Central in Manhattan.

You could put Madison Square Garden in one corner of the new terminal and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in another corner, and still the " Penn " road would have ample room left for all the traffic for which the station is designed, except that to and from Long Island. On the ground occupied by the new station and train-shed there is room for twenty-four cathedrals like that of St. Patrick's, on Fifth Avenue, or room for five hundred ordinary city dwelling-houses, for a few more than that number of dwellings were torn down to secure the site (at a cost of ten million dollars, or one million dollars more than the-cost of the site for the South Station, Boston) for what railroad men call the Great Ambition" of President Cassatt. At least three or four years may elapse before the new station is completed. Meantime, it exists only on paper - in hundreds of plans in the Pennsylvania's main offices at Broad Street Station, Philadelphia.

Only a Hole in the Ground.

 The visible beginning of the mammoth station is represented by a vast hole in the ground running from Seventh to Ninth avenues, and from Thirty-First to Thirty-Third Streets, embracing four of the largest blocks in the metropolis, equal to sixteen ordinary blocks, or three blocks larger than the site for the new Grand Central Station. Besides this main area, the company has bought several parcels " of adjoining properties, notably the whole Seventh Avenue front facing the new station, just for elbowroom.

The new Pennsylvania station and train-yard will cover twenty-five acres, while the new Grand Central will cover only twenty acres, and the South Station in Boston covers only thirteen acres. Specifically, the station itself will be seven hundred and eighty feet long by four hundred and thirty feet wide, these dimensions not including the train-shed or yard, but only the station building itself. Thirty-Second Street from Seventh to Ninth Avenues will, naturally, be closed forever to the public to accommodate the train service. Everybody will have to go, as it were, around the yard.

 100,000,000 Passengers a Year.

 Within the station and train-shed will be standing-room for fully three hundred thousand persons, a number equal to five armies like that of the regular military force of our country. Two hundred thousand persons can occupy the same space without any dangerous crowding. To put the passenger capacity of the station in another way, the engineers estimate that the accommodation will be equal to a maximum traffic of one hundred and thirteen thousand arriving and departing travelers per hour, or over a million per day of ten hours.

This would mean a maximum capacity of over three hundred and fifty millions a year, or two thousand a minute, or thirty each second, but in their conservative way the engineers divide the maximum by three, thus attaining what will probably be the actual traffic, namely, thirty thousand passengers an hour, or five hundred each minute, or eight each second, which means three hundred thousand in a ten-hour day, or about one hundred million a year.

Therefore, in the first year of the station's existence, the entire populations of the United States, Canada, and Mexico could use it in the ordinary course of travel without discomfort to a single individual patron of the road. Meantime the annual passenger traffic at the South Station, Boston, is less than twenty-five million, while the estimate for the new Grand Central is not more than forty million yearly, or thirteen thousand an hour.

Were all the travelers who are to use the Pennsylvania Station in the course of one year to form in line of procession, four abreast, the line would reach from New York to Panama, and it would require a period of three years to pass through the station, stepping at regular military pace.

Counting the Cost.

 Dollars, of course, form the backbone of this gigantic enterprise. The money to be put into the new station and the connecting tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers, comes, through different home and foreign money marts, from thousands of individuals in the United States and Europe. The Pennsylvania Railroad recently secured a loan of fifty million dollars from the people of France, and that whole French loan would pay for only one-half of the new terminal.

Were the total cost of the undertaking to be defrayed by this nation as a whole, each man, woman, and child enumerated in the census would be obliged to send President Cassatt one dollar and twenty-five cents, thus making the required total of one hundred million dollars. At the same time the South Station, Boston, cost only twenty-five million dollars, while the new Grand Central and its yard improvements are to cost only seventy million dollars.

The Price of an Empire.

In detail, the new terminal proper (exclusive of tunnels) will cost in the neighborhood of sixty million dollars, including ten million dollars for site, or twice as much as the costliest building in the Union, the State Capitol at Albany, twice as much as the National Capitol at Washington and the Congressional Library taken together, and three times as much as the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal, at Agra, India.

Altogether, the total cost of station and tunnels will reach a figure larger than that representing the combined sums paid by the United States for the Philippines, Florida, Alaska, and Louisiana.

How the Station Will Appear.

Imagine dwellers in adjacent skyscraping hotels looking down upon the new terminal. They would behold a parallelogram of Brobdingnagian dimensions as to length and breadth, but of comparatively Lilliputian dimensions as to height. The general elevation, indeed, is only sixty feet, with two exceptions -first, that in the center, where the dome of the grand waiting-room reaches a height of one hundred and fifty feet; second, that on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Thirty-Third Street, where there is an elevation of four stories for office purposes.

At first there was a plan to erect a twenty-story building at the Seventh Avenue end, from which revenue might be derived by office rentals. But it was decided that such a building would interfere with the requirements of a great terminal, hence the structure is not higher than is necessary for actual railroad purposes. As the tracks are forty feet below the street, however, the building rises one hundred feet from its foundation walls, corresponding in height to a ten-story building.

Architecturally, the inhabitants of the near-by skyscrapers see a structure, which, in the unusual extent of its area and in its general type, suggests the great baths of ancient Rome. The baths of Caracalla, still magnificent in their ruins, were, indeed, the inspiration of this architectural plan. The design of the entire exterior is severely classic, showing a Doric colonnade thirty-five feet high surmounted by a low attic.

In appearance the building certainly is a wide departure from the conventional railway station. One misses the turrets and towers, and, more than all, the usual lofty, arched train-shed; but as the principal function of this station is performed underneath the streets, the upward and visible signs of the ordinary station are naturally absent. It resembles, rather, some vast auditorium constructed on low lines for the easy ingress and egress of a multitude of persons.

The great station will front on Seventh Avenue, standing back fifty feet from the curb. It is to be one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most practical, of the railway stations of the country. The architects are Messrs. McKim, Mead & White, names which stand for art and beauty in public buildings.

Pink Milford granite is to be used in the exterior construction, similar to the building stone of the Boston Public Library, the University Club in New York, the Courthouse in Pittsburgh, and the Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati. This stone has peculiarly soft shades of color that are very pleasing to the eye.

 Gateway for 300,000 a Day.

Now, supposing that one of the dwellers in the adjacent skyscrapers decides t~ go forth to Chicago or Denver or New Orleans or San Francisco or t6 any one of the twenty thousand odd stations reached by the Pennsylvania system to the westward or southward, instead of taking two or more trolley-cars and a ferry-boat, as formerly, to reach the Pennsylvania's terminal at Jersey City, our traveler would merely walk around the corner to get his "through" car.

Arrived at the station, he would discover that it is unique among the railway stations of the world in the number and convenience of its entrances and exits. That is, each of the four sides of the structure is a front, opening respectively on two wide avenues and two important streets. The numerous entrances and exits are independent of one another, the incoming throng being thus separated from the outgoing.

We will suppose that our traveler enters the station by the main entrance on Seventh Avenue. This is for foot-passengers only, and opens into an arcade two hundred and twenty-five feet long and forty-five feet wide, flanked by shops. Here our friend may purchase all eleventh-hour requirements for his journey, for the shops will be filled with wares that appeal especially to tourists. In this arcade two thousand persons may shop without inconvenience to one an-other. Is our traveler in need of food or drink? He will find the restaurant and lunch-rooms and cafe' at the farther end of the arcade, where kitchens and serving rooms are equipped to serve ten thousand meals a day.

Waiting in Marble Halls.

Beyond the arcade the traveler will enter the general waiting-room, a lofty and magnificent apartment three hundred and twenty feet by one hundred and ten feet, and one hundred and fifty feet high. Eight full regiments of infantry could parade rest" within the marble walls of this room. It is, in fact, the largest room of its kind in the world, the new Grand Central waiting-room being only ninety by three hundred feet, while the corresponding room in the South Station is only sixty-five feet by two hundred and twenty-five.

It may be that Mr. Tourist has his family with him, his wife, and, possibly, the baby. First of all, then, he takes mother and child to the subsidiary waiting-room for women, which, like the men's waiting-room; is provided with comfortable chairs and opens into retiring rooms and lavatories. There he leaves mama and baby to be waited on by women attendants if need be, while papa goes into the general waiting-room to attend to the details incidental to starting upon his journey, such as buying tickets at one of the twelve ticket-office windows, or getting his package from the parcel-room, or checking his small baggage, or sending a telegram, or telephoning in one of the twenty-four booths. For within the spacious walls of this wondrous room are located all the offices for such matters, all so disposed as to situation that a passenger may proceed from one to another seriatim,with a minimum of exertion and without retracing his steps.

Get Your Baggage Checked.

To check his heavier baggage, his trunks, our passenger will go to the main baggage-room, which has four hundred and fifty feet of frontage for the use of transfer wagons. His trunks will be delivered at this baggage-room and taken away through a special subway thirty feet wide, and from the baggage-room the trunks will be delivered to the tracks below by motor trucks and elevators.

The baggage facilities provide for the handling of ten million pieces of incoming and outgoing baggage in the course of a year; also, for the handling of six million packages, store bundles, and the like, by local express.

Had our traveler arrived at the station by carriage instead of on foot, he would have pursued this same routine, excepting that he would have entered, not by the main entrance, but by the open pavilion at the corner of Thirty-First Street on Seventh Avenue, which furnishes a carriage entrance for incoming traffic.

Twenty cabs may here discharge their fares simultaneously. A similar pavilion on the Thirty-Third Street corner is, for outgoing carriage traffic. After our traveler's carriage descends, under cover, from the street level by a slight gradient of twenty feet to the level of the station proper, it passes through a tunnel to the incline, two blocks away, assigned as an exit. At the same time, on the track level, a public cab service will be maintained at rates lower than have ever been known before in New York.

On the Concourse.

Now, when our traveler is ready to go to his train, he returns to the women's waiting-room for wife and baby, and then proceeds to the Concourse, an immense platform facing the twenty-one tracks. The Concourse, in other words, is a covered assembling place three hundred and forty feet by two hundred and ten. It is fully twenty-five feet wider than the great lobby of the Jersey City train-shed. This is the vestibule to the tracks.

The Concourse and adjacent areas are roofed by a lofty covering of iron and glass, similar in design to the famous sheds of the new stations in Frankfort and Dresden, Germany, this being only one of the many respects in which the terminal resembles the monumental beauties of the stations at German centers, such as those, too, at Berlin and Hanover.

Ten thousand persons can wait for trains on the Concourse at one time, without undue crowding. By exits alone the Concourse is designed to get rid of one hundred and sixty-two thousand persons an hour, while all trains bring a maximum of only thirty thousand an hour.

It is obvious that to get to the tracks forty feet below the street level, our traveler, in traversing the great station, must descend several different stairways and escalators. These are all very wide and are designed to accommodate three hundred and twenty-five thousand outgoing and incoming passengers per hour. As this capacity is more than three times as great as that of the train service in a whole day, it will be seen that there need be no elbowing or jostling, and that one's friends by the score may come to "see one off" or to greet the incoming relation, even during the busiest hour of a Saturday afternoon in summer.

Help for the Long Islander.

But might it not be that our traveler, instead of starting westward or southward, would seek a destination in New England or on Long Island, including Coney Island or the race-tracks at Sheepshead or Belmont? Well, then, he would go just the same to the new station to begin his journey. For thence he can take a through car for Providence or Boston or any point " down East," arrangement for this service having been made by a loop running through an East River tunnel from Long Island, connecting with the main line from New England. By the same token, the passenger from " down East" can get to any point on Long Island without changing cars or crossing a ferry.

Then, too, were our outward-bound traveler booked for Coney Island or any point on Long Island, he would not be obliged to cross a ferry to Long Island City, as at present, but would go direct to the new Pennsylvania Station in New York to get his train. The whole northern side of the station is assigned to the Long Island service, and by means of subways this traffic will be handled independently of the rest of the station.

We have followed our passenger through the arcade on the street level to the general waiting-room on what is called the First Level and to the Concourse on the Second Level. Now behold him on the Third Level, which is the track level forty feet below the street. Here, on either side of eleven platforms are twenty-one tracks, and on one of these stands the train that is to carry Mr. Tourist to West or South, to Long Island or New England.

Seventeen Miles of Tracks.

Could a bird's-eye view be had of the track service of the station, one would compare the trackage to two unfolded fans joined together at the open ends, the handle of one extending under the Hudson River and that of the other under the East River. For it must be remembered that this station is extraordinary in that trains are fed to it through a tunnel at either end, each tunnel running under a river, presenting, therefore, a problem in engineering which has never before been met in the construction of a railroad terminal.

With the tunnels, or tubes, at either end of the station, and with four tracks running through each tube and multiplying after they emerge from the tubes until they reach a total of twenty-one tracks in the station proper, it is easy to understand why the trackage may be compared to two open fans joined together at the open ends. These two fans embrace seventeen miles of tracks, affording ample room for the operation of one thousand four hundred and fifty trains a day.

For the Long Island service, including the immense summer traffic to Coney Island and the Long Island race-courses, tracks Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 are set apart. On these four tracks the Long Island suburban service will be operated on the "shuttle" plan, by which the trains are kept in continuous motion in and out of the station. Half a million passengers can be handled on these four tracks in a single day of ten hours, if necessary. All the remaining seventeen tracks are for "through business" to the West and South.

On the twenty-one tracks as a whole, a maximum of one hundred and forty-five loaded trains an hour (in and out) will be handled. At the South Station, Boston, on the busiest day, only eighty-eight trains are handled on twenty-eight tracks. In a ten-hour day at the Pennsylvania Station, one thousand four hundred and fifty trains, as already stated, will arrive and depart, or an average of more than two trains in each minute of the day.

Coupled end to end on a single track, those trains of a single day would reach from New York to Albany, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles. In the course of a year the arriving and departing trains at the new station would number five hundred and twenty-two thousand, and these coupled together on one track would reach once and a half around the equator, or, if coupled together on thirteen different tracks side by side, they would form thirteen solid rows of cars and engines extending each from New York to San Francisco, leaving not an inch of room between the two oceans on which to budge.

Half a Million Cars a Year.

As for standing room for trains in the train-shed and adjacent yard, there will be accommodation for five hundred and ninety cars and locomotives, or thirty-seven thousand feet (seven miles) of standing room for rolling stock, all this without interference with actual train operations-switching, shunting, and so on. In the train-shed and yard in their entirety there is standing room for one thousand five hundred cars and locomotives, as against room for one thousand at the new Grand Central Station and six hundred and thirteen at the South Station, Boston.

The maximum of one thousand four hundred and fifty trains daily will be made up of an average of five cars and a locomotive each, which means that seven thousand two hundred and fifty cars (and one thousand four hundred and fifty locomotives) will pass in and out of the station each day. The cars will be loaded with a number of passengers averaging all the way from eighteen in a Pullman sleeper to one hundred on a Coney Island car, and one hundred and twenty-five on each car of a race-train bound for a Long Island race-track. And on all the trains eight passengers will be detrained or entrained with each tick of the station clock.

Army of Railroad Men Enlisted.

In addition to the number of passengers passing through the terminal, a veritable army of railroad men will have a part or the whole of their workaday being within that mighty parallelogram.

At least seven hundred different locomotive engineers, and as many firemen and conductors, will come in and go out in the course of a day. Over three thousand trainmen and more than one thousand Pullman employees, including porters, cooks, waiters, and conductors, must be included in the battalions of railroad men using the station, not to speak of a regiment a thousand strong of track-men, cleaners, inspectors, switchmen, and yardmen working permanently within the station, train-shed, and yard.

This makes a total of some seven thousand railroad men who will enter or leave the station, or remain within the limits of the terminal during the hours of daylight alone. For their accommodation a room is assigned in the adjacent building on Seventh Avenue-the one built by the company for elbow-room-to be used as a branch of the Railroad Men's Y. M. C. A.

With all the room in the station yard, it is not enough for the enormous amount of yard work entailed by the operation of one hundred and forty-five trains an hour. The main yard, therefore, will be at Sunnyside, embracing over one hundred acres, hard by Long Island City. Every train, no matter where from or where bound, will be cleaned, repaired, watered, iced, and inspected in that main yard, and hence the traffic in the East River tunnels will be ten times greater than that through the Hudson tunnel.

Throughout the tunnels and terminals electricity plays its part not only in respect to lighting but also as the motive power. Two great power-houses, one at the New Jersey end and one at the Long Island end, will supply this cleanest of motive powers. Thus there will be no smoke nor steam nor gas to choke the passenger in these corridors of the under-earth.

When your train from the West reaches Harrison, New Jersey, near Newark, or a place still farther away, the steam engine that brought you to that point will be uncoupled and supplanted by an electric locomotive, which will take your train through the tunnel into the station. And that electric locomotive will take your train the journey under the Hudson River within two minutes, which is about ten minutes better than the fastest ferry-boat now makes the trip in the finest weather.

Tunnels and Tubes.

A word about those far-famed and very interesting tunnels, which are as much a part of the great new terminal station as are the handles of the monster fans already alluded to by way of describing the look of the trackage. The tunnel under the Hudson is eight thousand feet long, and the one under the East River about six thousand feet. There is also a tunnel under Bergen Hill, on the Jersey side, six thousand feet long. The building of those tunnels is, to be sure, a separate story. But once the tunnels were dug, then came the work of inserting into them the necessary tubes or inner shells of steel, each having a thick coating of asphalt.

The present year will probably see the completion of the Hudson River tubes. In each will be installed a wonderful system of signals and safety devices, and through each will run a wall parallel with the sides of the railroad cars and of a height of about four feet above the track level. Now, should any hitch occur, such as a blockade in the tube, the passengers can get out and walk safely along that wall right into the great passenger station.

The Costliest Hall in the World.

After solving the problem of the tubes came the less difficult task of preparing the site for the world's largest railroad station. Having acquired all the five hundred or more buildings, mostly dwellings, on the chosen site, the next thing to do was to get all the tenants to move out. The tenants moved, and for a time the region presented the spectacle of a deserted town in the heart of New York. Goldsmith's Deserted Village " was not half so uncanny as were these four huge blocks of uninhabited houses.

Then came legions of wreckers," workmen in the employ of contractors who had bought all the brownstone, and all the tin roofing, and all the lead-pipe, and all the woodwork, in all the dwellings, at bargain rates, provided they would carry off the loot. Then began the active work of excavation - dig! dig! dig! the song of spade and machine-shovel and pump and steam-drill and boring apparatus generally.

Thus was dug in the heart of Manhattan and under the beds of two rivers what may be said to be the costliest hole in the whole world. In comparison with this mighty hole over which the great new station is now being reared and in which seventeen miles of tracks are to be laid, all the excavations now going on under the direction of archeologists in Greece and Egypt become as the mere turning of sod in a back-yard. Even the unearthing of Herculaneum will be child's play beside the herculean task that is now being completed by ten thousand earth-diggers and rock-blasters in the American metropolis.

That stupendous hole is the beginning of the greatest of modern engineering enterprises, a hole by which New Jersey and Long Island will be land-connected with Manhattan, a hole that means, as already stated, that travelers from the West and South, and passengers from Long Island, need no longer change from a comfortable train to a three-cent ferryboat in order to get into New York.

Joyful Tidings for the Commuters.

There is one individual who will benefit so largely from the tunnels that he should be named in particular, in distinction from all other travelers. He is the commuter. He rejoiceth exceedingly, for all his weary life he has been compelled to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous changes from heated train to chilly ferry-boats, in getting into New York. The train brought him to Jersey City or to Long Island City. So far, so good!

But at either of those places, especially in winter, when the river was choked with ice, he began to have harassing thoughts of the probabilities of getting late to his office. Oftentimes, alas! the ferry-boat took a longer time crawling through the ice than the railroad journey from his suburban home. And wo came to him, for because of such delay he lost his job.

To-day, however, he smiles in contemplation of the good that is coming to him via the great new station. Soon he is to be carried across the Hudson or across the East River without one glimpse of water; and by direct connection with the subway he will be rushed to his office every morning in time to hold his position.

A Great New Seaport?

Look closely at the results effected by the transportation problem so thoroughly solved by the heads of a railway system, a problem that for years has been the despair of railroad kings and of many a genius of the engineering world, and a rather strange fact may be discovered. It is that Long Island for the first time becomes an important slice of land in the nation's commerce and transatlantic passenger traffic.

It must be remembered that the Pennsylvania Railroad owns the whole of the tip end of Long Island, Montauk Point, and has been holding it in reserve for years, allowing no improvements, but just keeping it free of incumbrances-for what purpose? That purpose is now in sight. It is that Montauk may be made one of the great seaports of the country. The port of New York is already inadequate to the demands of ocean steam-ships. Why not, then, develop Montauk as an auxiliary sea-terminal for the Penn system and save the difference in time between steamships and railroad speed?

Since, by means of its new terminal in New York and its tunnels, the Pennsylvania can soon run trains straight through to Montauk, who knows but what ocean steamships may in a little while dock at Montauk and send travelers and the hordes of immigrants thence by all-rail routes to any place in the Union?

Where Will the Profit Come In?

Such is the meaning of the great new terminal station-such itself is the largest railroad depot built by railroad financiers who dared expend upon it $100,000,000, the return of which money may not be expected until the expiration of at least a decade after the station is put into use. Every passenger entering or leaving that station during the first ten years following the opening day will cost the Pennsylvania company the sum of twenty cents; so that, for instance, for each tripper who buys his fifteen-cent ticket to Coney Island from the new Penn terminal, the company will lose a nickel. On the other hand, the one hundred million travelers departing from or arriving at the new station in the course of the first year will pay to the company sixty million dollars and in ten years six hundred million dollars.

Railroad kings decreed that the surface of the waters were not sufficient for metropolitan railroad traffic to and from a terminal, so under the beds of two rivers tunnels were hewn and steel tubes were inserted. Thus the ancient and honorable ferry-boat loses its importance. Then railroad kings pronounced steam antiquated as a motive power for a modern terminal, and the magic of electricity was summoned for duty.

By such means, and more, there comes into concrete being a depot into which two hundred way-stations can be set down and each surrounded by a liberal-sized lawn; a station so large that the entire population of the three great countries of North America can pass through it in a single year without one annoying push or shove, half of them bent upon getting themselves railroaded to points in every State in the Union, and the other half coming into New York.

Such is the station by which railroad kings are solving one of the problems of transportation, answering the question of how we can save the precious minutes, and hence more precious dollars. And they are proud of their achievement President Cassatt is proud of it, Vice-president Rea is proud of it, Chief Engineer Noble is proud of it, Operating Engineer Richards is proud of it - all hands down to the most humble architect's clerk or trainman are head over heels in love with it.

Such, indeed, is the biggest of the one hundred thousand odd railroad stations in the world - builded in the mere attempt on the part of a Cassatt administration to keep pace with the growth of the whole Union, a growth so rapid that the people must themselves constantly travel from place to place to keep in step with the forward march of their own businesses and to enjoy the resulting possibilities in the pursuit of health, pleasure, happiness, and suburban homes.

Prev     Next
Site Map