Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Skyline Roadtrip - Philadelphia

Not too long ago, I found myself back up in Philadelphia for some job related such-and-such. The easiest way to get up to Philly from Baltimore is hoping on the good old Northeast Corridor and take the hour trip north.

When you arrive in Philadelphia you enter another Pennsylvania Station, albeit this one now is called 30th Street Station, as to not be confused with all the other ones. Opened in 1933, it replaced Broad Street Station as the Pennsylvania Railroad's main passenger depot in the city. Built as a through station it helped increase efficiency since it startled the main line between New York and Washington. To connect the new station to downtown, since now it was further west, upper platforms were built on the North Wing to accommodate the trains that brought commuters into downtown to Suburban Station (built in 1930).

30th Street not only being effective as an intermodal stop - it connects intercity rail to commuter rail, market-frankford subway, and subway-surface trolleys - it is also an impressive building. Built in the Classical Revival style, it looks more like a Greek Temple to Transportation. The massive main waiting room is decorated with art deco stylings and large windows on all sides. One feels dwarfed by the size of the chandeliers alone.

The station is always hustling and bustling with travellers and commuters, and my trip through there was no exception. Families waiting for trains, businessmen rushing to catch the SEPTA trains into Center City, Amtrak Red Cap service pushing baggage carts, traingoers moving up and down the escalators and stairs to the platforms below. This all makes for a busy, but not hectic sight.

Definitely the most dominating feature is a large bronze statue of the Archangel Michael lifting a dead soldier from the fires of war. Along all four sides are the names of more than 1,000 employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad that were dilled during World War II. While not as famous as the Wanamaker Eagle or the Rocky Statue, it is impressive in its own right.

Next time you get yourselves to Philly, make sure to check out 30th Street Station, it rivals even Washington Union.

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