© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Alexander Hatos Photograph Collection
1948-1970 (Bulk 1964-1967)
 PR 48

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Rebecca Dean

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 13, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Alexander Hatos Photograph Collection
Dates: 1948-1970 (Bulk 1964-1967)
Abstract: Primarily photographs of the destruction of Pennsylvania Station and the construction of Madison Square Garden.
Quantity: 0.9 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 48

Return to Top »

Biographical and Historical Note

Alexander Hatos (1901-1987), a native of Metuchen, NJ, worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad for 45 years. An amateur photographer, Hatos meticulously photographed the process of demolishing the original McKim, Mead, and White-designed Pennsylvania Station and building Madison Square Garden.

The McKim, Mead, and White-designed Pennsylvania Station, which opened in 1910, was a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a New York terminal for both their trains and for those of the Long Island Railroad. The building was inspired by ancient Roman architecture, especially the Baths of Caracalla. The exterior of the building was built of granite; much of the interior was made of Tavertine marble quarried in Italy.

By the 1950s, the cost of upkeep for the monumental building, its delapidated condition, and the possibility of generating more income from the site by putting in offices and a sports complex led to the Pennsylvania Railroad's decision to take down the original structure and replace it with Madison Square Garden and an office building called Pennsylvania Plaza. The new complex was owned jointly by the Pennsylvania Railroad and Madison Square Corporation. Demolition started in early 1964; Madison Square Garden opened in 1967. Pennsylvania Plaza was built last. The companies involved in the demolition and construction included Turner Construction Company, Tishman Realty and Construction Company, the Lipsett division of Luria Brothers, Charles Luckman Associates, Bethlehem Steel, and Gerosa Crane Company. An interesting aspect of this construction project is that Pennsylvania Station remained in use (by about 250,000 people and 640 trains per weekday) throughout the demolition and construction.

The demolition met some resistance before it started, mainly from members of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Mayor Robert F. Wagner established both a Committee for the Preservation of Historic and Aesthetic Structures and a Landmarks Preservation Commission prior to the start of demolition, but his actions came too late to prevent Pennsylvania Station's demolition. A group of architects picketed at the start of demolition, but there was little public protest. Public outrage at the fate of the original Pennsylvania Station grew during the demolition and ultimately led to the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965 as a way to save the city's other monuments from demolition. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is credited with saving numerous city landmarks - including Grand Central Station -- from destruction.


  1. 1904 Excavation for the McKim, Mead, and White Pennsylvania Station begins.
  2. 1910 The McKim, Mead, and White Pennsylvania Station opens.
  3. 1961 Jun Mayor Robert F. Wagner sets up a Committee for the Preservation of Historic and Aesthetic Structures.
  4. 1962 Feb The Board of Estimate appropriates $50,000 to establish a Landmarks Commission.
  5. 1962 Apr Mayor Wagner appoints a twelve-member Landmarks Preservation Commission.
  6. 1963 Oct Demolition of the McKim, Mead, and White Pennsylvania Station commences.
  7. 1964 Oct The first of 207 steel grillage anchors for Madison Square Garden is installed.
  8. 1965 Apr The Landmarks Preservation Commission is signed into law.
  9. 1966 Jul The last statues are removed from the Seventh Avenue facade of Penn Station.
  10. 1966 Sept The first part of the new Pennsylvania Station opens to the public.
  11. 1967 Madison Square Garden is completed.
  12. 1970 Pennsylvania Plaza is completed.

Return to Top »

Scope and Content Note

The Alexander Hatos Photograph Collection spans the period from 1948 to 1970, with the majority of the photographs documenting the 1964 to 1967 demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station and the erection of Madison Square Garden. The collection contains 24 8x10 inch photographs, 907 5x7 photographs, 14 3x5 photographs, 39 2x3 photographs, 2 Christmas cards, 4 tintypes, and negatives for most of the photographs. Most of the prints are black and white and have the date stamped on the verso. The collection is divided into 2 series based on format: Series I: Photographs and Series II: Negatives. These series are divided into 17 folders that are arranged chronologically within each series. Photographs and negatives not related to Penn Station are included after the Penn Station materials.


The collection is arranged in two series by format.

  1. Series I. Photographs
  2. Series II. Negatives

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, Death and burial -- Pictorial works
  • Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968, Death and burial -- Pictorial works

Document Type

  • Negatives
  • Photographic prints
  • Tintypes

Subject Organizations

  • Madison Square Garden (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • McKim, Mead & White
  • Pennsylvania Station (New York, N.Y.) -- Pictorial works

Subject Topics

  • Construction workers -- New York (State) -- New York -- Pictorial works
  • Railroad stations -- New York (State) -- New York -- Pictorial works
  • Wrecking

Subject Places

  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Pictorial works
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Pictorial works

Return to Top »

Administrative Information


Gift of Gladys Zurkow, 1992.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from:
Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270
Fax: (212) 579-8794

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Alexander Hatos Photograph Collection, PR 048, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

The Department holds the records of McKim, Mead, and White (PR 042). Many collections contain photographs of Pennsylvania Station prior to its demolition, as well as the different locations of Madison Square Garden.

Return to Top »

Container List

Series I: Photographs

Scope and Contents note

Series I. includes views of the intact Penn Station from the 1940s-60s, almost weekly documentation of the demolition process, and views of the construction of Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Plaza. Both close-up photographs of construction workers and distance photographs of groups of workers appear throughout this collection. A few miscellaneous photographs show Hatos himself, as well as presidential funereal cavalcades.

Folder 1 contains 9 8x10 black and white photographs of Penn Station in the 1950s and early 1960s. An undated photograph shows trains and the entrance to the North River Tunnels. In photographs of the interior of Penn Station, commuters wait for trains in the original station's vast main waiting area. Two identical photographs of the interior bear different dates (1948 and 1951). One photograph depicts a Pennsy TrucTrain display from 1955. Other photographs document several years of the "Season's Greetings" sign and decorations that adorned the ticket counters. Twenty-nine 2x3 photos taken in November of 1963 show the facade from all sides of the building and interior views of waiting passengers and the station's retail stores. Hatos was evidently trying to preserve a detailed record of the station's appearance before the demolition.

Folder 2 contains 64 5x7 black and white photographs that show the beginning stages of demolition. Scaffolding is erected around large sections of the building and large cranes are on site. One photograph shows some of the eagle and angel statues that decorated the building resting on boards at street level. Photographs of the interior contain scaffolding, construction supplies, and building debris. Passengers are diverted by barricades and makeshift walls; parts of the station are cordoned off by drop cloths. In several photographs, sunlight streams through magnificent columns or palladian windows onto piles of rubble. The main hall of the station, however, looks almost untouched in a photograph from July 3, 1964 (#15). A large banner outside proclaims, "On the Way to You . . . New Madison Square Garden Sports Center [and] Redeveloped Pennsylvania Station" and claims, "We are doing everything possible to hasten completion of the project for your convenience." One photo shows what appears to be debris removed from the station lying in a landfill (possibly at the Meadowlands). Folder 2 also contains many photographs of construction workers.

Folder 3 contains 114 5x7 black and white photographs that follow the ongoing demolition from August 1964 to April 1965. Construction workers jackhammer the station floor as curious commuters look on. Workers haul away debris with bulldozers, install a ventilation system, and pour concrete. Some photographs show the installation of "Bethlehem" steel beams within the station; these beams will become the ceiling of the current Penn Station. The marble has been jackhammered from the bottoms of the station's interior Corinthian columns, revealing the steel frames underneath. A shower of sparks provides a backdrop for people browsing at a temporary newstand. Numerous people peruse a display of scale models and posters announcing "A New and Dramatic International Landmark! . . Madison Square Garden Center and a Modern Railroad Terminal Now Being Erected Here." A gaping hole is all that remains of a 31st Street staircase; in front of it a sign reads, "Sorry, but . . . Close It We Must to Build Your New Station." The makeshift entrance down to tracks 1-4 suggests the impact the demolition must have had on commuters.

Folder 4 contains 118 5x7 black and white photographs from May 1965 to July 1965. Constructution workers remove the eagle and angel statues from the Eighth Avenue entrance. Extensive scaffolding and temporary wooden staircases indicate the continuing inconvenience to the station's everyday users. Interior photographs show a large clock in the central hall shrouded by a drop cloth. Several photographs show the close proximity of major construction and passengers. People loiter in the waiting area with widespread demolition taking place directly behind them. A large amount of airborne dust is visible in some photographs. Construction workers continue to install I-beams and wooden planks on top of the beams. A temporary hanging ramp runs along an outside brick wall of the station; one photograph shows workers standing on this ramp and removing the wall. Later photos in the folder show the brick wall gone and only the steel frame of the building remaining; the main post office building stands in the background across Eighth Avenue. A cross-section of one of the original building's granite columns in a truck appears to be as tall as the men standing near it. A "Robbins for Mayor" poster hangs on the plywood section of scaffolding. Signs indicate that work is being done by Turner Construction Company with Gerosa cranes. By July 27, 1965 (#2), passengers are waiting at ticket counters in a subterranean area that bears some resemblance to today's Penn Station. The useable waiting area above ground has been reduced to a small seating area surrounded by ropes and banks of lockers.

Folder 5 contains 1 8x10 and 70 5x7 black and white photographs, many of which are taken from above from adjacent buildings. These distance shots provide a good sense of the scale of this demolition project. A crane is moved inside the building on top of the recently installed I-beams, and commuters -- most of them men -- watch the work being done. More photographs show a waiting room full of commuters with workers lifting beams in the background or foreground. A photograph of the building's corner shows the steel frame sticking out of the granite. Signs proclaim that the demolition is by "Lipsett, a Division of Luria Bros."

Folder 6 contains 1 8x10 and 89 5x7 black and white photographs. Some of these photographs continue to focus on the installation of I-beams in the central waiting area of the original Penn Station. A man (probably a railroad employee) writes train schedules onto a Pennsylvania R.R. blackboard. Exterior photographs document the process of taking down the metal frame of the station. Construction workers tar the wooden floor they installed over the I-beams, then lay concrete. This folder contains many photos of heavy machinery and construction workers doing everything from laying cinderblocks to jackhammering to lifting large loads with cranes. More photographs taken from above show the steel frame of the station completely stripped.

Folder 7 contains 111 5x7 black and white photographs. Construction workers use blowtorches and cranes to break apart the steel frame of the building. Flatbed trucks take away huge pieces of the steel frame. By December 1965, the foundation and steel frame of Madison Square Garden are beginning to go up while partially demolished pieces of Penn Station loom in the background. The former great hall of Penn Station is a jumble of building materials and debris, but the large clock is sill visible in the background. Steel pillars are covered in posters of basketball players, circus performers, and boxers in anticipation of the new arena. Construction is even taking place at track level; in some photographs workers are down on the tracks installing some kind of large piece of metal with a crane. The whole construction site is covered with a light layer of snow. A photograph of icicles documents the harsh weather conditions to which the workers were exposed.

Folder 8 contains 130 5x7 black and white photographs. These photographs show the frame of Madison Square Garden rising quickly. Demolition and construction go on simultaneously in close proximity. Nets hanging above the tracks prevent debris from landing on the tracks or trains. A view towards the east shows the Empire State Building in the background, the remaining Seventh Avenue section of Penn Station in the middle, and a completely leveled area in the foreground where Madison Square Garden is being erected. The Eighth Avenue side of Penn Station is almost completely gone (only some frame materials remain). A crane moves a piece of heavy equipment onto a high level of Madison Square Garden. The rounded walls of Madison Square Garden go up quickly; by April 8, 1966, at least one section of the Garden has reached its full height and is having a curved piece installed on top of it. Political campaign posters line a plyboard wall next to the new Madison Square Garden. The Seventh Avenue facade of Penn Station appears to be largely intact as late as April 1966. A large poster announces "Two Pennsylvania Plaza: A 29 Story Office Building" with leasing by Cushman & Wakefield.

Folder 9 contains 84 5x7 black and white photographs. Work on Madison Square Garden continues in these photographs. Large I-beams arrive on flatbed trucks and cranes hoist them into position. The skeleton of the old Penn Station's lofty ceiling appears next to what remains of the old building (the Seventh Avenue side). The inside of Madison Square Garden begins to assume the characteristic bowl shape of an arena; internal staircases are also visible. Workers put up scaffolding around the Seventh Avenue facade of Penn Station. The final eagles and angels are moved away using cranes and trucks while bystanders watch and take pictures. The last columns are broken into pieces and carted away. A close-up photograph preserves the inscription that commemorates the board of engineers who built the original Penn Station and the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in the early 20th century. Another photograph captures a poster that encourages the viewer to "Join This Growing Tenant Roster: American Machine and Foundry, Chemical Bank New York Trust Company, Longchamps Restaurant."

Folder 10 contains 6 8x10 and 123 5x7 black and white photographs. These photographs are a combination of advanced work on Madison Square Garden and the demolition of the last remaining pieces of Penn Station. Men jackhammer on the roof of the old building. The granite facade that remains stands in sharp juxtaposition to the steel frame of Madison Square Garden rising in the background. A banner announces, "Madison Square Garden Center -- Sports, Entertainment, Conventions -- Completion Late 1967." Another banner gives more specifics: "Madison Square Garden Center: 20,000 Seat Garden, 5,000 Seat Forum, 500 Seat Cinema, 48 Lane Bowling Center, Hall of Fame, Exposition Rotunda, Gallery of Art, Pedestrian Mall, Dining & Club Areas." Workers use trucks and cranes to put siding onto Madison Square Garden. Photographs taken in late October 1966 show the framework of Madison Square Garden almost completed. A photograph of another inscription from the original Penn Station records information about the Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad Company and the principal contractors who were involved in building the various tunnels. The steel frame of the office building (2 Pennsylvania Plaza) begins to take shape next to Madison Square Garden. By late November 1966, photographs show Penn Station as we know it in 2006. The underground round concourse that connects the current Amtrak and New Jersey Transit areas of Penn Station looks much like it does now (although in these photographs this area houses ticket counters and today it is lined with stores). Giant illuminated advertisements ("America lives in Dacron -- Crisp, on-the-go fashions that holiday in style!") wrap around the walls. The office building that is going up is decorated with snowflakes for the holidays. This folder also contains many photographs that show billboards for "Klavan & Finch WNEW 1130," "The Odd Couple," "Truth or Consequences," "Shine's Restaurant," "Ride Ford's New Wave for '67," etc.

Folder 11 contains 8 3x5 black and white photographs from December 1970; they record views of Madison Square Garden from Eighth Avenue and views of Pennsylvania Station and Pennsylvania Plaza from Seventh Avenue. Snowflake decorations adorn both buildings.

Folder 12 contains two 5x7 black and white photographs and one 8x10 photograph of Alexander Hatos and two 3x5 Christmas cards with images of Penn Station on them. One 1964 photo shows Hatos wearing a hard hat and standing in the Penn Station demolition (a small version of this photograph taken from a distance appears in the chronological Penn Station demolition photographs). An inscription on the back, presumably added by Gladys Zurkow (who donated these photographs), indicates that this is a picture of Alexander Hatos and "He was an employee of Pennsylvania RR -- 45+ years not the demolition crew." Hatos also appears in a 1955 portrait with his camera and tripod; this photograph appears to be a self portrait. The 8 x 10 photograph shows Hatos in 1953 with his camera and tripod by the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. The back is stamped "M.J. Archdeacon Asst. Fore. T. & S." One Christmas card shows Penn Station's facade and reads, "Season's Greetings from our house to your house"; it is stamped with Hatos's address and the date on the back (Nov 27 1963). The other shows people standing by Penn Station's external columns and reads, "Christmas Greetings.

Folder 13 contains a set of photos that show New York City processions and funerals. Six 2x3 black and white photographs document an April 3, 1951 visit to New York by French President Vincent Auriol. Soldiers on foot and on horseback accompany the procession. Auriol rides in an open car and waves to the crowd. Two 3x5 black and white photographs show soldiers standing at attention as General Douglas MacArthur's casket passes by in April 1964. Three 3x5 black and white photographs and 4 2x3 color photographs show Herbert Hoover's casket entering Penn Station. Many of these photographs were taken from the roof of Penn Station.

Folder 14 contains miscellaneous photographs and tintypes. Six 8x10 photographs of assorted subjects show lightning, a bicycle race in 1949, an unidentified group of men standing behind a desk, a man in shorts and a t-shirt who appears to be at some kind of racetrack, a 1948 view of the interior of Windsor Train Station in Montreal, and a lake framed by trees at La Fontaine Park in Montreal. A 3x5 black and white photograph shows a steam train in the Delaware Water Gap in 1947. Three tintypes of unknown date (probably early 20th century) show men in period bathing suits. A fourth shows men wearing suits and hats. The tintypes were housed in an envelope labelled "'Ethnic Beach Club' at Coney Island."

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Pennsylvania Station
1948, 1951-1963
Box: 1 Folder : 2-7 Demolition
1964 Mar-1966 Jan
Box: 2 Folder : 8-10 Demolition
1966 Feb-1967 Jun
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Plaza
1970 Dec
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Hatos portraits and ephemera
1953, 1955, 1963-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Processions and funerals
1951, 1964
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Miscellaneous
1947-1949, undated

Return to Top »

Series II: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

Series II: Negatives includes 35mm negatives for the 5x7 demolition and construction photographs in this collection. A small number of larger negatives (1 1/2x2 in.) show images of Penn Station before the demolition and Robert F. Kennedy's televised funeral. Most of the photographs in this collection of Penn Station before the demolition do not have negatives (i.e. the 8x10 photographs in Folder 1).

Folder 15 contains negatives from 1959. Two negatives show Penn Station; others show men at some kind of office or restaurant gathering. With the exception of the two Penn Station negatives, these negatives do not correspond to prints in this collection. Folder 16 contains negatives of the Penn Station demolition and Madison Square Garden construction photographs. The negatives are organized chronologically. Folder 17 contains negatives of Robert F. Kennedy's televised funeral. These negatives do not correspond to prints in the collection. One negative shows a train.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Pennsylvania Station negatives
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Demolition and construction negatives
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Robert F. Kennedy funeral negatives

Return to Top »

Return to Top »