Welcome to the Penn Station Pathfinder - a geospatial digital project that provides cartographic resources about New York's Pennsylvania Station - past, 
present, and future. 

The Pathfinder addresses 3 key concepts:

1. Spatial Orientation


Penn Station is a spatially disorienting series of underground hallways, stairwells, and rooms. It can be difficult to get a sense of the station as a whole and its relationship to the outside city. Using cartographic and architectural resources, such as maps, Google Earth, and floor plans, the pathfinder provides an understandable spatial perspective of the station.

For more present-day images of Penn Station, click here.

2. Mapping an Historic "Ruin" 
The original Pennsylvania Station was buit by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the renowned architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White in 1910 at the height of rail travel in the United States. The street level station house was torn down in 1963 and the lower levels reconfigured into the present underground station. While dramatically different from its original appearance, the track and platform configurations remain the same from their 1910 design. 




Andrew Leicester's "Ghosts" is a series of mosaics which play on the idea of the current station as an historic "ruin." One of the original 1910 staircases and brass banisters are visible in the second picture.  Source: MTA Arts

3. Cartographic Storytelling- Large and Small Scale
Built at the height of train travel in the United States and torn-down/scaled back as the railroads diminished in favor of automobile and jet travel, Penn Station can illustrate the history of U.S. transportation in the 20th century. The pathfinder will attempt to tell the story of Penn Station using current and historic cartographic resources on both large and small scales. At the small scale are architectural plans of the two square block station and neighborhood maps. At the larger scale are railroad track and tunnel maps and national rail system maps - current and historic.

This project was originally created for a Map Institute class I participated in while I was a graduate student at Pratt Institute's School of Information and Library Science. The class was taught at The New York Public Library's Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Divison by Matthew A. Knutzen, Geospatial Librarian and curator. 


For more historical images of Penn Station, click here.

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