The old Penn Station is not completely gone. If you poke around long enough in the basement of Madison Square Garden, which is what the ‘new’ Penn Station became, you can find a hint or two of the old magnificent Penn still there. And you can even find a couple of hints in broad daylight, too. I chronicled some of these in a FNY page way back in 1999.
Possibly the most intriguing find is the discovery of part of an original track indicator in the baggage area near Track 1 (left). The ornate indicators were a hallmark of the old Penn, standing 16 feet high and complementing the ornate fencing and bannisters. The aluminum sign cards were painted bright red. The track number appeared in the semicircular area on top. The two numbers on the bottom were used to show the departure time. However, the indicator isn’t in an area frequented by the public, and you need to request to see it when on a Penn Station tour. One such tour I was on, led by Lorraine Diehl, author of The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station (Four Walls Eight Windows 1996) inspired me to write the original page.
At the top, on one of the staircases going to Tracks 13 and 14 you see one of the original Penn Station brass subway railings installed in 1910. And, unique in the station, at the bottom of the steps is a bracket that likely once held an electric lamp.
Meanwhile on Track 17, a set of steps has the brass railings and also a decorative element, a set of spikes on the side wall. Track 17 is unique in Penn Station as it does not share a platform with another track, and the platform is narrower than the others; the Track 18-19 platform, meanwhile, is much wider than the others. I do not know the reason for this discrepancy, so if anyone does, fill me in in Comments!
Most of the brass rails have been removed in previous decades, as new stairwells and escalators have been installed.