Pennsylvania Station (Baltimore)

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For other stations with the title Pennsylvania Station, see Pennsylvania Station.
Baltimore Penn Station
Amtrak station
MARC commuter rail station
Baltimore Light Rail stop
Baltimore Pennsylvania Station corrected.jpg
Exterior of Penn Station
Station statistics
Address 1515 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland
Line(s) Amtrak:


Light Rail:
  Light Rail
Penn Station – Camden Yards
Platforms 3 island platforms (MARC and Amtrak)
1 side platform (Light Rail)
Tracks 8 (MARC and Amtrak)
1 (Light Rail)
Baggage check Available for Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regionals 66 and 67, Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star services
Other information
Opened 1911
Rebuilt 1984
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code BAL
Owned by Amtrak
Formerly Baltimore Union Station
Passengers (2013) 1,065,576[1] Increase 3.6% (Amtrak)
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
Acela Express
toward Chicago
toward Charlotte
toward New Orleans
Northeast Regional
toward Savannah
toward Miami
Silver Star
Silver Meteor
toward St. Albans
Penn Line
toward Perryville
MTA Maryland
toward Camden Yards
Light Rail
Penn Station – Camden Yards
  Former services  
Pennsylvania Railroad
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad
toward Philadelphia
toward Harrisburg
Northern Central Railway Terminus
Pennsylvania Station
Pennsylvania Station (Baltimore) is located in Maryland
Pennsylvania Station (Baltimore)
Location 1525 N. Charles St.,
Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates 39°18′26.64″N 76°36′56.16″W / 39.3074000°N 76.6156000°W / 39.3074000; -76.6156000Coordinates: 39°18′26.64″N 76°36′56.16″W / 39.3074000°N 76.6156000°W / 39.3074000; -76.6156000
Area 1.9 acres (0.8 ha)
Built 1911
Architect OR builder = McKim, Meade, & White; Murchison, Kenneth W.
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 75002097[2]
Added to NRHP September 12, 1975

Pennsylvania Station (generally referred to as Penn Station) is the main transportation hub in Baltimore, Maryland. Designed by New York architect Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison (1872–1938), it was constructed in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is located at 1515 N. Charles Street, on a raised "island" of sorts between two open trenches, one for the Jones Falls Expressway and the other the tracks of the Northeast Corridor. The Mount Vernon neighborhood lies to the south, and Station North is to the north. Penn Station is about a mile and a half north of downtown and the Inner Harbor. The station was originally known as Union Station (because it was served by both Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railway), but was renamed to match other Pennsylvania Stations in 1928.

Both the northern and southern Northeast Corridor (NEC) approaches into the station are tunneled. The two-track Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel (B&P Tunnel), which opened in 1873, constitutes the southern approach. At 7,660 feet (about 1.5 miles) in length, it is one of the worst bottlenecks on the NEC since the maximum speeds for trains through the tunnel is only 30 mph. The northern approach for Penn Station is carried through the Union Tunnel, which has a single-track bore and a double-track bore. The Union Tunnel was opened in 1873 and has been upgraded since, and is not as bad a chokepoint as the B&P tunnel, since it has two bores and lacks the sharp curves and steep grades that its opposite to the south has.

Penn Station is the eighth busiest rail station in the United States by number of passengers served each year.

Marc Ridership[edit]

As of 2012 there are 3,301 daily southbound boardings on the MARC Penn Line.


Pennsylvania Station opened on September 15, 1911. It is the third railroad depot on its North Charles Street site. The first one was a wooden structure built by the Northern Central Railway that began operating in 1873. This was replaced in 1886 by the Charles Street Union Station, which featured a three-story brick building situated below street level with a sloping driveway that led to its entrance and a train shed that measured 76 by 360 feet (23.16 by 109.73 meters).[3]

The old station was demolished in January 1910.

Current and prior services[edit]

Penn Station is served by Amtrak, MARC, and the Maryland Transit Administration's light rail system. The station is the northern terminus of the Light Rail's Penn-Camden shuttle, connecting the Mount Vernon neighborhood with downtown; the southern terminus is Baltimore's Camden Station. MARC offers service between Washington, DC and Perryville, MD. Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains from Penn Station serve destinations along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC. Some Regional trains from the station continue into Virginia and serve Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk, Lynchburg, and points in between. Other long distance trains from the station serve:

Previous Amtrak trains in the 1970s and 1980s also offered service to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, these services have since been discontinued over the past 30 years.

Prior to Amtrak's creation on May 1, 1971, Penn Station served as the main Baltimore station for its original owner, the Pennsylvania Railroad, though passenger trains of the Western Maryland Railway also used Penn Station as well. Until the late-1960s, the Pennsylvania Railroad also operated long-distance trains over its historic Northern Central Railway line from Penn Station to Harrisburg and beyond, such as "The General" to Chicago, the "Spirit of St. Louis" to its Missouri namesake, and the "Buffalo Day Express" and overnight "Northern Express" between Washington, DC, and Buffalo, New York. As late as 1956, this route also hosted the "Liberty Limited" to Chicago and the "Dominion Limited" to Toronto, Canada. The Baltimore Light Rail now operates over much of the Northern Central Railway's right of way in Baltimore and Baltimore County; however, the spur connecting Penn Station to this right of way is not the route originally taken by Northern Central trains. Baltimore Light Rail service began in 1997.

As part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project, the station was restored to its 1911 appearance in 1984.[4]

The station's use as a Western Maryland station stop allowed passengers from Penn Station to ride directly to various Maryland towns such as Westminster, Hagerstown, and Cumberland. Passenger service on the Western Maryland ended in 1958.

baltimore penn station also is used for marc train storage during the weekends and ovrenight via off-peak service times on tracks 2,3,5, and8.

Male/Female sculpture controversy[edit]

In 2004, the City of Baltimore, through its public arts program, commissioned noted sculptor Jonathan Borofsky to create a sculpture as the centerpiece of a re-designed plaza in front of Penn Station. His work, a 51-foot (15.5 m)-tall aluminum statue entitled Male/Female, has generated considerable controversy ever since. Its defenders cite the contemporary imagery and artistic expression as complementing an urban landscape, while opponents criticize what they decry as a clash with Penn Station's Beaux-Arts architecture, detracting from its classic lines.

As The Baltimore Sun editorialized,[5]

"Could this explain why defenders of "Male/Female", the sculpture in front of Penn Station, get so irritable? That large piece of quadrupedal artwork is out there all on its own, unclothed of commemorative armor that might deflect public criticism – unless you want to think of it as a memorial to the war between the sexes, but that's an issue that people tend to have a lot of different and strongly held opinions about anyway. No, "Male/Female" gets a lot of attention strictly on its artistic merits, and much of it isn't very positive, especially concerning its setting in front of the Beaux–Arts railroad station. This drives its proponents up the wall."

Three years later, Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks ridiculed the artwork, writing on August 26, 2007, "Patrons of art here paid $750,000 for a 51-foot sculpture...that looks like Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. I look at it and want to say: 'Klaatu barada nikto!' It's the first thing visitors see when they walk out of the train station."[6] Another Sun reporter, commenting in July 2008 on what she described as the "stormy relationship" between Baltimore and public art, said "People's hate for Penn Station's behemoth Male/Female sculpture has burned for years."[7]

It has also been featured a few times in the Zippy comic strip, beginning with the August 26, 2004 installment. Its cartoonist Bill Griffith opined that "the sculpture as I look at it is both intriguing and compelling but also a little kitschy, and I like that. It's a nice place to be – high art and low art at the same time." He was also attracted to its message that people are full of contradictions and its provocativeness, stating that "you can't not react to it."[8][9]

Male/Female in front of Pennsylvania Station, August 1, 2006.

Proposed hotel and remodel[edit]

Penn Station's interior

Several different proposals have been made to convert the upper floors of the station in a hotel. In 2001 an agreement was made with James M. Jost & Co. Inc. to convert the upper three floors into a 72 room hotel.[10] This project was never completed. The proposal later resurfaced in 2006 with a new unnamed developer.[11] This proposal was also never completed. In 2009, the idea surfaced once again as Amtrak announced it had reached an agreement with a developer for a 77-room hotel to be called The Inn at Penn Station.[12] This project was later reported as stalled along with many other hotel proposals in Baltimore.[13]

Checkers speech[edit]

During what became known as the Checkers speech, on September 23, 1952, Richard Nixon, then a U.S. Senator from California and the Republican Party's nominee for Vice President, cited Penn Station as the place where a package was waiting for him, containing a cocker spaniel dog his daughter Tricia would name "Checkers." Nixon erred in naming the station, using its former name, calling it "Union Station in Baltimore."


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, State of Maryland" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (September 11, 2011). "Baltimore's Reconstructed Railroad Station Opened 100 Years Ago This Week". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Amtrak - Baltimore, MD (BAL)". Trainweb. January 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Art Scrape". The Baltimore Sun. August 28, 2006. 
  6. ^ Rodricks, Dan (August 26, 2007). "Bawlmer Bizarre–What a Relief". The Baltimore Sun. p. 3B. Retrieved August 26, 2007. 
  7. ^ Rosen, Jill (July 17, 2008). "Fake Forest Hides in Plain Sight". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1C. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  8. ^ Gunts, Edward (August 27, 2004). "Male/Female' Statue Latest Stop on 'Zippy' Trip". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 27, 2004. 
  9. ^ Warner, Tom (March 21, 2008). "Baltimore Art Crimes: A Charm City Atrocity Exhibit". Accelerated Decrepitude (blog). Retrieved March 21, 2008. 
  10. ^ Cohn, Meredith (9 August 2001). "Hotel Planned in Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Mirabella, Lorraine (14 March 2006). "Amtrak revives its plan for hotel at Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Gunts, Edward (May 29, 2009). "Amtrak: Baltimore Penn Station to Hotel". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Hotel projects in Baltimore stalled or scrapped". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 

External links[edit]