What do you do when you try really hard to make that earlier train but miss it by literally 30 seconds? Well, apart from march right back to the ticket window dismayed, there are always pictures to take. Especially at the Philadelphia 30th Street Station...
I have kind of a soft spot for this place...I waited for someone to pick me up here once so maybe it's just memories of younger days...I got the whole twirl upon pick up and everything. Everyone should be picked up at a station and twirled around at least once I think...
There's kind of a familiar feeling about the station...like you've seen the architecture before. To some degree, I guess it brings to mind a bit of Grand Central, or the maybe Union Station in LA (which I've been dying to see in person - ever since seeing it stand in for NY in Pearl Harbor the movie (yes, I still love that movie)). But the station was actually designed by a Chicago based architecture firm so it's got a touch of that Chicago art deco in it too (remember the Chicago architecture cruise?)
Actually, in reading up on the station (as one has time to do when they've missed their train), I learned that the reason that the trains in Philadelphia...and NYC...and up and down the NE Corridor are underground was to let trains pass below without everyone getting constant doses of steam and soot that the earlier trains had. Kind of neat, I never really realized there was a reason for that. And apparently the Philadelphia was full of all sorts of innovations, most of which make us smile with curiousity now I bet:
"The station had a number of innovative features, including a pneumatic tube system, an electronic intercom, and a reinforced roof with space for small aircraft to land, and contained a mortuary, a chapel and more than 3,000 square feet of hospital space."
It just makes you realize what a hub of life train stations used to be, I guess almost like an airport now. Though I don't know how many airports have hospital space (or pneumatic tubes, email takes the place of that...)
One of the most striking things you notice is the memorial statue, and while I've dashed by it on several occassions, I actually had the time to read the dedication. It's a memorial to employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad who lost their lives in WWII, specifically inscribing that all travelers passing through the station remember them. I didn't know how many employees of a railroad could have lost their lives in the war, even one as big as WWII, but it's 1,307 to be exact - and all of their names are listed there. I can only imagine how acutely that must have been felt by others at the railroad.
It's the very retro and art deco touches that really make this place something to take in - the forged iron taxi cab signs, the uplit platform numbers jutting out, the extremely vertical windows and columns, the long polished wooden benches, and the light fixtures (many of which reminded me of Cafe Bazar in Salzburg which had much of the same feel). But the station isn't all retro either - the station has several contemporary installations in place around the waiting area. For as much as the structure is one of the great building of the past, the installations help to ground it in the present as well.