The rise and fall of Penn Station
Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: The Construction of Penn Station and Its Tunnels,
by Jill Jonnes; Viking, 368 pages, $27.95.
The demise of McKim's masterpiece becomes a metaphor for the decline of the railroads, and Jonnes sensitively covers the causes — competition posed by car and plane travel, government funding of the interstate system and airports, and the complacency of New Yorkers. She leaves us with some poignant images, including one of the station's female statues called Day languishing in the Meadowlands, and architects protesting on the rainy day that demolition begins.