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The epic story of the struggle to connect New York City to the rest of the nation The demolition of Penn Station in 1963 destroyed not just a soaring neoclassical edifice, but also a building that commemorated one of the last century’s great engineering feats—the construction of railroad tunnels into New York City. Now, in this gripping narrative, Jill Jonnes tells this fThe epic story of the struggle to connect New York City to the rest of the nation The demolition of Penn Station in 1963 destroyed not just a soaring neoclassical edifice, but also a building that commemorated one of the last century’s great engineering feats—the construction of railroad tunnels into New York City. Now, in this gripping narrative, Jill Jonnes tells this fascinating story—a high-stakes drama that pitted the money and will of the nation’s mightiest railroad against the corruption of Tammany Hall, the unruly forces of nature, and the machinations of labor agitators. In 1901, the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Alexander Cassatt, determined that it was technically feasible to build a system of tunnels connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island. Confronted by payoff-hungry politicians, brutal underground working conditions, and disastrous blowouts and explosions, it would take him nearly a decade to make Penn Station and its tunnels a reality. Set against the bustling backdrop of Gilded Age New York, Conquering Gotham will enthrall fans of David McCullough’s The Great Bridge and Ron Chernow’s Titan....

Title : Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels
Author :
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ISBN : 9780670031580
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels Reviews

  • BookishStitcher
    2019-01-07 03:23

    Jill Jonnes just has this amazing ability to bring a certain time in history to life. Every detail from the people's lives to the engineering aspects of the project is just so rich and expertly researched. I will read anything that she writes.

  • Dan Palmer
    2019-01-04 02:26

    After reading this book two things stand out in my mind: 1) This book is much more a book about the unprecedented engineering of the river tunnels than it is about Charles McKim's lamented travertine and granite pile, and that is fine with me. To truly appreciate the architecture of any era one must also appreciate the engineering that made such architecture possible.2) The hour that PBS devoted to this fascinating story of muscle, mud machinery and architectural majesty did not do its story justice - showing the statue of Samuel Rea but not explaining his part in seeing the great undertaking through to completion or that his statue was originally located in the soaring main waiting room of the demolished station. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexper...Now, on to re-reading the bookend story to Penn Station..."The Pan Am Building" by Meredith Clausen. This time, the OTHER glorious monument to NYC rail survives the post-war destructive tendencies of that era's "leaders." http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/pan-am-...

  • Brian
    2019-01-05 09:24

    Conquering Gotham tells the history of the building of Penn Station and the building of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The story is fraught with ego, engineering feats and sacrifice of the common worker like most Gilded Age histories. The struggle of the conquering the east river and the tunnels being built is the primary story in the book with little actually devoted to Penn Station other than being a building out of place and time. The book also covers the typical Tammany Hall corruption and the Pennsylvania railroad's fall from grace under Cassatt. Overall the book had a tendency to ramble and did not really live up to what I was expecting. I would have liked to hear more about the actual station (at least equal in coverage to the tunnels) and a greater focus on the politics of the time instead of the roundabout way it was approached. If you are a true gilded age aficionado it is still worth the time to take a look at but for a casual reader or someone interested in urban history you should probably pass.

  • Dave Courtney
    2018-12-19 04:23

    Conquering Gotham presents itself as an inside examination of the incredible Penn Station. In reality it is the story of the politics, the tunnels, and the people that forged a path for the railroad to finally make its way in to the heart of Manhattan. I have always been fascinated to learn of Penn Station, especially as someone who never had the privilege of seeing it first hand. I have always wondered at the reasoning and the politics that led to its demise. In this sense, for me, the best portions of this book were the last two chapters, where we finally see Penn Station completed. Unfortunately it rushes through these chapters, leaving us with merely a glimpse of this architectural wonder and the brief years in which it managed to survive. Similar to the history of the Brooklyn Bridge, the weight of the story is found in the incredible effort that such an architectural feat (tunnels and infrastructure) demanded of the workers. There is a lot of overlap with the story of the Brooklyn Bridge (as a Guilded Age story) that sees the expansive and explosive growth of the railroad move across North America. It would be short sighted for us to forget about how dangerous it really was to pursue these societal advances and build these sorts of ground breaking monuments during this period. One can also add that this was still the age where such buildings and bridges and tunnels and stations represented a whole lot more than simply a building. One could argue that modern architecture has lost of bit of this old soul. For a historical biography of a particular piece of architecture, this book makes the mechanics and the details interesting and dramatic. There is something marvellous and breathtaking, for example, of having to wait years to see if a shot in the dark decision to abstain from drilling a couple of positioning posts might one day lead to the collapse of the tunnels and the death of civilians, or if this decision would end up actually saving the future state of the tunnels. This is the kind of risks that these projects demanded in the absence of tried and true theories and examples. Again, as with the story of the Brooklyn Bridge, politics and money play a big part in shaping the landscape of this period in New Yorks history (not to mention the greater American landscape). This is another part that I enjoyed immensely. I found it fascinating to read about the ebb and flow of economic growth in light of the age of the railroad. What is even more informing and interesting is to read of the individuals that sat at the helm of moving the American economy forward. It is a story of corruption and morality, and it is actually refreshing to see that even in the midst of the corruption some of the key individuals who shaped our current landscape were the ones who were interested in seeing the moral high ground survive. It is a reminder that while the railroad represented money, it really was about the people (as all great architecture and infrastructure is). Casatt (the visioneer of the Penn Station idea) was one of those people, and sadly he never lived to see his project to completion. It was also nice to see a bit inside the person of Roosevelt, who comes off as a wholly compelling individual.Another part that I loved is, not surprisingly, found near the end. When you finally see Penn station complete, we are given a glimpse of some of the problems that lie underneath this incredible Roman-like construction. To read that its initial purpose did not for-see its actual function as a commuter station and a link to Long Island (and thus was not designed appropriately to compliment the people who would end up riding) is telling. The image of the station is as a link from (North America) in to Manhattan. In reality, Manhattan would attempt to claim the station exclusively for its own interests. This leads us to the examination of the relationship between Philadelphia and New York City. It is in this relationship that we find the real reason for its premature and unfortunate demise. According to Jones, NYC rejected the station as an architectural wonder because it represented Philly more than it did the character of NYC. It was low lying and expansive rather than a high rising and space saving design. As he puts it, it had its "soul" in Philadelphia, and it's physical presence in New York City. It is for this reason that Grand Central remains to this day as one of the great symbols of NYC, a true part of its own history that sits at the actual heart of the city. Penn Station would forever struggle (and fail) to live up to its promise as a game changing piece in the Manhattan landscape.There are so many stories of the progress of NYC that follow this same trend of moving (through and under and over) neighborhoods in an effort to consistently and persistingly re-define the larger city in the face of more modern expressions and realities (the larger city in actuality functioning as a series of ever changing neighborhoods in which concerns, gentrification, politics, social dynamics are constantly evolving and shifting with it). This is why NYC is known as the unfinished city. It is constantly changing. It was no different with the story of Penn Station. The station was in the middle of one of its poorer neighborhoods, a fact that leads in to some decent commentary about the function of architecture and infrastructure in light of the people that a make up these neighborhoods. Often these developments came through with a force (guided by a vision and fueled by money and politics), Neighborhoods become forced to adapt and change (thus becoming temporarily displaced), and then at times moved and/or redeveloped in to another section of the city accordingly. This mentality has its shortcomings (short term disruption of the neighborhoods and the people involved, and the tendency to forget about the people who are affected. As well, there is a danger in failing to recognize the value of history and historic architecture). But in a city made up of multiple boroughs and with a unique diversification of character and immigration, it has a way of forcing the city to stay honest. It tends to keep the problems in view, and guards against complacency. It makes certain that conversation is happening as time moves forward. And it allows for the struggles of one area to find solutions in the experiences and perspectives of another. And ultimately, when a city is not afraid to revamp, reconfigure and reimagine how it does things on a consistent basis, this opens the door for the different and competing sections of the city to work together.For Penn station this sort of revamping of a poorer neighborhood in order to create one of the more upscale, glamourous, artistic and lovely pieces of architecture in America (and one of the more ambitious transporting hubs of the era) forced these two characteristics to work together (upper and lower class). Unfortunately what it failed to do was for-see the middle/working class as the glue that would need to hold it together, a class that was ultimately glossed over in the design of the structure itself."Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn't afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tin-horn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed." This was written for the New York Times during the 60's, a period of time that saw history come in to a full force collision with the nature of forward progress. The railroad was taking over, and with it New York was reaching for the sky in a fashion unlike it ever had before (along with the rest of America). Now, of course history will now tell us that this sentiment was not entirely accurate. The demolition of Penn Station would be the very thing that would lead to future legislation that would protect the rest of NYC's historic architecture. There has since been a lot of movement not only to save it, but to re-envision it and reinvent it at the same time. Any visit to NYC is a wonderful fusion of past and present, romantic and modern. But what this article does show is just how hard it is to respond to the ever changing world accordingly. Just as soon as the railroad exploded, car culture pushed itself in to its path (along with aviation). And with every change the landscape has to adjust. But Penn station looms over this truth as a tall example of what is lost when we neglect our architectural history, and a great example of what happens when we disassociate. our buildings from the people that use. them. It is a reminder that these kinds of buildings are not just made from the elements, but are a reflection of the people's soul and tells the story of a city in a way little else can. For Penn Station, that it had such an impact on the displacement of a neighborhood, and that it (in the end) neglected the actual needs of the people is a testimony of how much power lies in these kinds of developments. For every way that culture pushes us forward, we must continue to make efforts to remember these stories and to see the people behind the building. Cassatt saw this in the initial vision, and this is why his statue remains.

  • Peter Brown
    2019-01-14 03:23

    Jill does a great job telling the great tale of the construction of the miles of tunnels, the political drama, and of course, the late great Penn Station. These kinds of projects are what built the nation and you don't see this kind of stuff happen anymore. Tearing down the station remains one of the biggest crimes in civic, architectural, transportation, infrastructural, etc in history. But even though the station is gone, the tunnels still remain to this day and carry millions and millions every year.

  • Roger
    2019-01-10 06:18

    Wonderful story of the glory years of railroads and the technology of the day to build underwater tunnels.

  • Jennifer Barr
    2018-12-28 10:31

    I liked this book though it was dense and a bit of a slog to read., It is the story of how the Pennsylvania Railroad built tunnels under both the Hudson (North) River and the East River to bring train service to Manhattan and construct NYC's Penn Station. The most interesting part of the book for me was the beginning describing how train passengers had to get off train and then travel by ferry to Manhattan. The rivers were clogged with ships and ferry travel was dangerous. I also found all the political maneuvering to get the tunnels and station permitted interesting.The book slowed down for me when it got into the design/construction of the tunnels and station. A diagram/illustration of the tunnel boring machines would have been very helpful. Also reading about the trials and travails of rich, white men wasn't too interesting. The decline of the PPR and demolition of the original grand Penn Station were glossed over in about the last 15 pages of the book. If you love trains and visionary transportation thinking then this book may interest you.

  • William Thompson
    2019-01-10 09:37

    If you're wanting a book about the Penn Central Station in New York City, this is not the book. Instead, it is an informative, excellent book on the travails of building the necessary tunnels to bring the Pennsylvania Central Railroad trains from New Jersey into Manhattan and the tunnels necessary to take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Central Station that almost immediately began to create the huge residential developments on Long Island. Before the tunnels were built, the Vanderbilt-controlled New York Central had the only train access in New York City, across a short Harlem River bridge from the north and into Grand Central Terminal. All other passengers and freight from more than 10 railroads had to unload onto ferries in New Jersey and make their way to crowded wharves on the edges of Manhattan. While all the railroads wanted access to New York City, breaking the political stalemate that prevented an economically lucrative plan fell to the Pennsylvania's president, Alexander Cassatt (BTW, brother of painter Mary Cassatt) to battle Tammany Hall, the New York state legislature and the Vanderbilt family. Only then did the financing challenges and engineering challenges begin to be tackled. While static gas lines and trolley cars had been run through tunnels, no one had attempted to run 200 tons of rattling train cars through an underwater tunnel. Nor was this the only challenge, because Cassatt's international construction engineers discovered after they started the project that not only were the beds of the rivers around Manhattan alternatively silty and rocky, but that any tunnels built were hoisted up and down by tidal flows coming into New York harbor from the Atlantic. While the book is primarily about the tunnel building, it does focus somewhat on Charles McKim, the station's architect. However, Jonnes seems primarily interested in McKim's private life, notably on his sexually avaricious partner, Stanford White, who was killed by a jealous husband in the midst of the project. While I am still eager to read a book about Pennsylvania Station, this book was still a fascinating tour of early 20th century engineering challenges and the fracture point between the Gilded Age and modern America.

  • Chrissie
    2018-12-29 10:24

    Nice pictoral synopsis of the incredible challenge of bringing the railroad into Manhattan from the West. Reads like a novel most of the time and uses quotes and historical items to corroborate historical events. The portions that make it particularly interesting bring the current events of the time into perspective to illustrate how this epic project was possible and ultimately successful. We truly live in a different age.My only criticism would be the many characters that are part of this story are referred to with a nickname that was not clearly defined, or a few individuals will be discussed and then the text will read "he did etc" without making it clear about whom we are referring to. This could be my own confusion and inability to keep characters straight (especially with one's unfamiliarity, many full given names, etc).Great read for anyone. Important, I believe, especially since this was one of the greatest acheivements of its time, and we are currently progressing on another parallel tunnel (THE ARC) with hardly any fanfare at all. Ho-hum. Almost required reading for anyone who commutes between NJ & NY.

  • Tracey
    2018-12-23 06:21

    Despite never having been to New York City, I find myself drawn to both fiction and non-fiction about it, especially the period from the 1870's to the 1910's. This work provided some additional background (as well as a pleasant excursion) into that world.Jonnes provides a great amount of detail in both the construction aspects and the political wheelings and dealings of the herculean task of bringing the railroad to Manhattan. I'm not sure which was the greater foe: Tammany or the Hudson River! In any case, I was astounded on both fronts that this magnificent structure was even able to be completed. I was also very sad to read in the Coda section of its demise. Perhaps Jonnes tried a bit too hard to replicate the style ofErik Larson; the connection to theEvelyn Nesbit scandal was obvious, but seemed a sidebar to the main focus of the book. Then again, considering Larson's success withThe Devil in the White City, who can blame her for adding a bit of scandal to the story?

  • Ron
    2018-12-17 03:15

    A really good read, about the Pennsylvania Railroad's long-delayed (and desired) entry onto the island of Manhattan. The book makes the creation of urban infrastructure interesting, and it's particularly fun to read about the incremental construction of the tunnels, and how they were shifting around under the alluvial silt under the Hudson River. But what I was hoping to learn more about, but only found a little bit of, was how the Pennsylvania Railroad was seen by New Yorkers as a Philadelphian entity, and how its final entry into the city was made difficult, and how it was ultimately destroyed, completely, perhaps as punishment for its arrogance (The Philadelphia/New York relationship (I can't call it a rivalry, though perhaps before and after 1820, when New York finally surpassed Philadelphia as most populous city in America, there might have been more of one) is an interesting topic, worthy of the same analysis that was made of that between Boston and Philadelphia in "Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia"). "Pennsylvania Station had its body in New York, but its soul in Philadelphia."

  • Robin
    2019-01-02 09:16

    This is probably the best book that could have been written about the Pennsylvania Railway's epic struggle to bring its railway to New York early in the 20th century given the constraints of the material. Before then all the railways, save for the New York Central of the Vanderbilts, had to terminate at the Hudson River and send their passengers across in ferries. Conquering Gotham relates the business, engineering and political battle to build tunnels under the Hudson and turn two blocks of Manhattan into Pennsylvania Station.These events are distant from us now. Jonnes works hard to bring them to life, with accounts of (sometimes irrelevant) New York scandals of the day, but too much of the dialogue and character feels like it comes from the newspapers. Ultimately, you never feel like a person you like is in enough peril to drive the book onwards.The sad postscript is that the grandiose Penn Station was demolished in 1963, leaving the ugly underground box that remains today, although there are plans for a revival. Still, read this book, and you'll see the train ride into Manhattan through new eyes.

  • Ryan Holiday
    2018-12-17 03:36

    This book is interesting but ultimately disappointing. The title and description do a magnificent job overselling the book as a cutaway look inside an urban landmark. Rather than a treasure trove of unknown details and secrets of a subway and train terminal that millions of people use on a daily basis, it is dry narrative of the men who constructed it.For instance, it's more than 100 pages into the book that ground is finally broken on the tunnel and nearly halfway until Penn Station begins to take shape. The author is prone to superfic tangents on Tammany Hall, Vanderbilt, bridge construction, New York politics and the presidency. These digressions have the air of trying to fill space or had substance to a weak story. That is a strange feeling since the subject matter is so rich.After filling so much space with unnecessary details, the book rushes to completion after Penn Station opens. The destruction of the General Waiting Room to make way for Madison Square Garden is by far the best written part of the book but it gets but one chapter.For a reader after some urban anthropology, Conquering Gotham oversells and under delivers.

  • Lynn
    2018-12-28 10:41

    This was of particular interest to me as I have read a number of books covering the general time period. Additionally, having lived on Long Island and in NYC, I was a long time rider of the LIRR and often in Penn Station. The book examines the daunting political struggles against Tammany and eventually the President, the seemingly insurmountable physical and engineering issues and great insight into the character and personalities of the men who planned it all. The brainchild of Alexander Cassatt, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers provided easier, direct access to NYC, Long Island and eventually New England. I don't think you have to be a New Yorker to enjoy this book. The immense scale of the idea and the construction alone make this a fascinating read.

  • Dan
    2019-01-07 08:40

    are you a former history major? this book might just be for you. not gonna lie, i was at a bookstore's closing sale and saw this book on the shelf. it looked interesting so i grabbed it. anyway, as you might be able to tell from the title, this book details the pennsylvania railroads epic struggle to build tunnels beneath the rivers surrounding manhattan. obviously it wasn't easy. both in terms of physical construction and the citywide corruption necessary to get something of this magnitude built. having never seen Penn station before it was torn down, this book makes me wish i had. my one complaint is that the book has a 15 page chapter covering how the station affected the city after it was built. perhaps this is the topic for another book, but it would have been nice to see a bit more detail about this.

  • Tim Robinson
    2018-12-17 03:35

    An epic story; a great triumph; a great tragedy. This was the Heroic Age of American industry and commerce, when anything was possible and giants walked the land. Tunnels under two great rivers; four New York blocks cleared; the world's largest room in its fourth largest building; commuter suburbs opened up to relieve the most crowded island on the planet; lines from Boston to Miami and from Long Island to Chicago. What has Donald Trump done that can compare to this?As usual, I would have liked more engineering and less politics, more diagrams and less text. There are some good photographs, but none that really captures the scale of the enterprise. Perhaps I should get a coffee table book with full page spreads.

  • Peg
    2018-12-29 10:29

    Found this book at a hotel and started to read it; had to buy it to finish. This is a true story set in the golden age of railroads at the beginning of the 20th century. It chronicles the building of the tunnels under the Hudson River to connect the Pennsylvania RR lines that spanned the country with Manhattan. Prior to these tunnels being built, passengers would have to leave the trains in NJ and take ferries across the river to reach NYC. The engineering challenges were monumental, as were the monetary and political challenges. Alexander Cassett was the moving force behind the project, never living to see its completion. He was a different type of RR tycoon in that he refused to play the game with the all powerful Tammany Hall of the era. A well-researched, very interesting read.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-01-13 05:22

    This is a well-written and comprehensive of the Pennsylvania Railroad's herculean efforts to expand its railroad empire underneath the Hudson River and into the heart of New York City. The feats of engineering are all the more interesting because of the historical context, which is well-developed by the author. The book goes easy on the science, which is good, although it omits an explanation of the single biggest problem faced by the tunnel engineers (sinking and drifting of the tunnels). At times, the book reads more like a biography of the Pennsylvania Railroad's president, but that's not a fatal flaw because his dedication to the challenge and to meeting it with honor really adds to the story.

  • Philip Fierlinger
    2019-01-05 02:18

    This book was particularly interesting since I grew up in the Main Line neighborhood where Cassatt lived and of course spent a fair bit of time going up to NYC through those very tunnels into Penn Station.For some reason, I seem to have a some strange kick for reading books on history, shipping, pioneering, and the New York region.I really wish there was a video that would show exactly how the tunnels were dug out. It's not all that clear from the descriptions in the book. Other than that, I really got a good feel for the people, personalities, events and forces at work. It's pretty astonishing to learn how massive projects like this came to be.

  • Warren Benton
    2019-01-07 05:23

    Rating 3.5This book is about Penn Station and how the great men of Pennsylvania railroad wanted to make New York easily accessible to the people on the other side of the Hudson. This book goes briefly over the engineering feats but focuses more on how the then president of the PRR had to fight with Tammany Hall to try to keep the PRR as clean and honest as possible. When Cassatt caught wind of how some of his employees were getting kickbacks he went in and cleaned house. This book will be enjoyable for anyone who likes history, New York, Trains, or early 1900's construction (when we built great things through sheer force).

  • Chad
    2018-12-19 09:17

    This book covers the the epic trials faced by the PRR when building Penn stations and it's associated tunnels in NYC. Jonnes brings to life the assortment of colorful railroad barons, Tammany bosses, politicians, engineers and others involved in this massive construction effort. The biggest to date on American soil and the building of the longest sub-aqueous tunnels at that time. Tunnels that are still in use today I might add. Makes on feel sorry for the loss of such a great building from the NYC landscape (replaced by the awful current incarnation of Madison Square Garden).

  • Reuben Cohen
    2019-01-13 05:29

    For non-fiction this is an incredible story. We take those trains that go under the Hudson River for granted. Well, it was quite an event to make that happen. And I am not referring to what it took to connect a tunnel that started both in Manhattan and NJ and make them meet in the middle. There was all of the politics it took to make it happen. But I will not spoil a good story. Read on because you may find politics may not have change too much in the century since these events took place.

  • Ahf
    2019-01-02 06:15

    This is a great argument for abridged books (which I normally hate). There was about 1 hour of really exciting and interesting story here, but it took 8 hours to tell. About the creation of Penn station in NY, and the associated tunnels to get the trains into the city. I've always wondered how tunnels under water were built (now I know) why the rail system of the US has the names it has, and how that grew like topsy, the evils of Taminey, and what Teddy Rosevelt was like as a president. I got good information on all those, but too much of other stuff too.

  • Scott
    2019-01-02 07:39

    First off this book had immense appeal because of my interest in architecture and design throughout the Guilded Age in addition to its struggles, it's triumphs and the speed of the ever-changing field of technology and engineering of that time. This book also gave me a sense of pride reading about a fellow Pennsylvanian, Alexander Cassatt and his rise through the ranks to steer the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad into one of the most successful and momentous periods in its history.

  • Gordon Howard
    2019-01-11 03:35

    An excellent non-fiction book about the construction of the Pennsylvania railroad's tunnels under the Hudson River, and the magnificant Pennsylvania Station on New York's west side, in the first decade of the 20th century. The tunnels are still used today for AMTRAK and commuter passenger trains. The station, sadly, was demolished in 1963. Lots of interesting vignettes of the railroad's executives, the architects, and the times in New York City.

  • Bob
    2018-12-21 02:17

    Very enjoyable read about the construction of Penn Station in NYC and the tunnels that connected it to New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut. More than an engineering tale, the PRR took a stance against the corruption of the day and had to fight the governments of NYC and NY state to accomplish their goals. I had recently finished reading "The Bully Pulpit" and it was nice that this book connected to that one in dozens of ways and yet had almost no overlap; a perfect compliment!

  • Du
    2018-12-21 08:39

    This was a really well written non-fiction book. It was intricate where it needed to be and grand where it should be. The work and deals that went into bringing the railroad across the Hudson River into NYC was amazing, and the scope and scale of Penn Station was incredible. It is amazing that such a structure was removed and lost for us. The images in the book leave you wanting more. I'm glad that I picked this book up.

  • Jane
    2019-01-01 06:15

    I'd rate this book somewhere between a 3 and 4. Interesting to learn about the trials railroad executives had to go through to build Penn Station. I was confused throughout the book when the author was describing the grandeur of the station because the present day Penn Station is sad and characterless.

  • Michael Carnell
    2019-01-02 05:17

    Loved this book. I read it as an audiobook and, while my daughter made fun of it, I thought it was fantastic. Ok, if you aren't a rail or history buff much of it would probably be very dry or boring, it is just the type of thing for someone like myself. It goes far beyond just the mere building of Penn Station and the railway and covers much of the culture and politics of the time.

  • Rocky
    2018-12-19 05:19

    Wonderful read about an oddly underreported topic. The entire book creates such a wonderful mosiac of the time period, without swamping the reader in minutia. The Alexander Cassatt/Daniel Burnham relationship, and the struggle that they faced in developing this incredible station is so emblematic of how the world operated at the turn of the 20th Century.