Friday, July 5, 1963: Endangered buildings

Life magazine publishes a photo essay titled "America's Heritage of Great Architecture is Doomed ... It Must Be Saved," with photos by Walker Evans. The introduction:

     Above the scurry and tumult of travelers, clocks tick away the final hours of a grand and historic monument. New York's Pennsylvania Station is doomed. Its herculean columns, its vast canopies of concrete and steel will soon be blasted into rubbish to make way for a monstrous complex -- sports arena, bowling alley, hotel and office building. The disaster that has befallen Penn Station threatens thousands of other prized American buildings. From east to west, the wrecker's ball and bulldozer are lords of the land. In the ruthless, if often well-intentioned, cause of progress, the nation's heritage from colonial days onward is being ravaged indiscriminately -- for highways, parking lots, new structures of modernized mediocrity. Some 2,000 buildings classified by the government as major landmarks of history and beauty have vanished in the past 25 years. At this very moment most of the buildings shown on these pages are endangered -- and others have been saved only by fights. Unless citizens and officials act to halt the holocaust, the noble, the picturesque and all that is beautiful in America's architectural heritage will be memories and a handful of dust.
* Complete issue of Life magazine (article begins on page 52): @
* Slideshow (from life.time.com): @
* Penn Station entry from www.nyc-architecture.com: @ (Demolition began on October 28, 1963.)
* Walker Evans biography (from Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Metropolitan Museum of Art): @.  (The museum acquired Evans' personal archives in 1994; it can be searched at www.metmuseum.org.) 

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