Baltimore Building of the Week: Penn Station

This week’s Baltimore Building of the Week for Dr. John Breihan includes a great photo of the historic Penn Station prior to the installation of the controversial Man/Woman sculpture–

Image courtesy Jack Breihan

Louis Sullivan’s skyscraper style (as seen in Baltimore’s Equitable Bank Building featured last week) made full use of modern steel-framed construction and electrical appliances like elevators. But in the 1890s it was superseded by a style with equally advanced technology but not based on Sullivan’s famous pronouncement that “Form follows function.” Inspired by – and named after – the great French architecture school, the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, this new style combined modern steel-framed construction with historical European styles. Penn Station, completed in 1911, is a good example. Planned to handle several streams of travel on several different levels, it nevertheless presents a serene classical façade to viewers approaching up Charles Street – balustrade roofline, modillioned cornice, paired Roman columns, rusticated stone base. The equally classical interior has undergone several restorations since the 1970s. In the 1990s a connection to Baltimore’s new light rail system was added. As it approaches its 100th birthday Penn Station shows how old buildings, well maintained can continue to serve the community.


  1. Jed says:

    Great read, however I believe that the featured photo was taken in the 2000’s based on the Hyundai Santa Fe in the foreground.

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