the light that streamed through the huge windows beneath the vaults. The entrance landings at either end of the waiting room were framed with Ionic colonnades. Commuters, dwarfed in the magnificent space, reached the street-level entrances by means of broad stairways. The concourse, about twice the area of the waiting room and down one level from it, was as delicate as the other was massive. It was roofed with barrel vaults of glass framed in a filigree of iron, and therefore flooded with light. The twenty-one railroad tracks were on another lower level, 40 feet (12 meters) below the street.

Excavation work started in summer 1904 and the station was mostly completed by August 1910. At first dubbed the “Manhattan Gateway,” Pennsylvania Station soon became the gateway to America. It reached its peak usage toward the end of World War II, with over 109 million passengers in 1944. After that, changes took place in intercity travel. Congress adopted a 40,000-mile (48,000-kilometer) national system of interstate highways in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944; although the roads were not built immediately, that eventually led to the automobile’s taking precedence over the train, a situation that was exacerbated by the advent of inexpensive air travel. By about 1955 the railroad was eclipsed as Americans’ preferred form of passenger transport.

In 1962, Madison Square Garden purchased the air rights to Pennsylvania Station and in October 1963 began demolition, despite public outcry. All that remains is the underground section; its twenty-one tracks carry 600,000 passengers every day. One positive outcome of the loss of the magnificent building was New York’s Landmarks Preservation Law, enacted in 1965. There is also an increased national awareness of the importance of preserving architectural heritage. New York’s Grand Central Terminal, a contemporary of Pennsylvania Station, was saved and rehabilitated at a cost of $196 million; the work was finished in 1998. In May 1999 the Metropolitan Art Society announced a $484 million proposal to convert New York’s central post office (also designed by McKim, Mead and White), which once faced Pennsylvania Station across Eighth Avenue, into a new Pennsvlvania Station. The commission was won by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and their design was made public early in 2000.

See also

Baths of Caracalla

Further reading

Diehl, Lorraine B. 1985. The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station. New York: American Heritage.

Middleton, William D. 1996. Manhattan Gateway: New York’s Pennsylvania Station. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Books.

Wilson, Richard Guy. 1983. McKim, Mead and White Architects. New York: Rizzoli.



The ruins of Persepolis (in Persian, Parsa) lie at the foot of Kuh-i-Rahmat (Mountain of Mercy) beside a small river on the Marv Dasht plain of southwestern Iran, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) south of Tehran. Widely held to be one of the greatest architectural complexes of the ancient world, and even claimed to be the most beautiful the world has ever seen, it was probably commissioned by Darius I between 518 and 516 b.c. as the ceremonial center and temporary royal residence of the First Persian (Achaemenian) Empire. Persepolis flourished under later kings. Xerxes I (reigned 486–465 b.c.) built the Throne Hall and the ceremonial gateway. His son Artaxerxes I (464–425) finished the hall, Artaxerxes II (ca. 350) built the so-called Unfinished Palace, and more buildings were added as late as the reign of Artaxerxes III, who died only eight years before the city was looted and burned by Alexander the Great’s armies in 330 b.c. Helped by traitors, the Macedonians took Persepolis by surprise, massacred the defenders, and stripped the palaces and the treasury of gold and silver.

The earliest Achaemenian capital was established by Cyrus I at Pasargadae, 48 miles (77 kilometers) to the north of the Persepolis site. Soon the administrative center was moved to Susa, a further 230 miles (370 kilometers) north, which was better placed strategically for dealings with Mesopotamia. Darius I then decided, for his own reasons, to create Persepolis; perhaps he wanted to build a dynastic shrine in the Achaemenian homeland. Or there may have been a