Pennsylvania Station (Baltimore)

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Pennsylvania Station
Baltimore, MD
Amtrak intercity rail station
MARC commuter rail station
Baltimore Light Rail station
Baltimore Pennsylvania Station corrected.jpg
Location1515 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland
United States
Coordinates39°18′27″N 76°36′56″W / 39.30750°N 76.61556°W / 39.30750; -76.61556Coordinates: 39°18′27″N 76°36′56″W / 39.30750°N 76.61556°W / 39.30750; -76.61556
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Northeast Corridor
Platforms3 island platforms (MARC and Amtrak)
1 side platform (Light Rail)
Tracks8 (MARC and Amtrak)
1 (Light Rail)
ConnectionsBus transport MTA: 3, 11, 61, 64
Bus transport CCC Purple Route [1]
Bus transport Johns Hopkins Shuttle[2]
Bus transport Baltimore Collegetown Shuttle[3]
Bus transport BoltBus
Bike transport Jones Falls Trail
Parking550 spaces[1]
Bicycle facilitiesBike Share Stop #21 (16 docks)
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codeBAL
Previous namesBaltimore Union Station
Passengers (2017)1,063,628 annually[2]Increase 3.25% (Amtrak)
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
Acela Express
toward Boston South
toward St. Albans
Northeast Regional
toward Chicago
toward New York
toward Charlotte
toward New Orleans
toward Savannah
toward Miami
Silver Star
Silver Meteor
Penn Line
toward Perryville
MTA Maryland
toward Camden Yards
Light RailLink
Penn–Camden Shuttle
Former services
Preceding station   Pennsylvania Railroad   Following station
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad
toward Harrisburg
Northern Central Railway
BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak
toward Montreal
toward Kansas City
National Limited
toward Boston South
Pennsylvania Station
Location1525 N. Charles St.,
Baltimore, Maryland
Area1.9 acres (0.8 ha)
ArchitectMcKim, Meade, & White; Murchison, Kenneth W.
Architectural styleBeaux Arts
NRHP reference #75002097[3]
Added to NRHPSeptember 12, 1975
Pennsylvania Station Baltimore, MD is located in Baltimore
Pennsylvania Station Baltimore, MD
Pennsylvania Station
Baltimore, MD
Location within Baltimore

Baltimore 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, about a mile and a half north of downtown and the Inner Harbor, between the Mount Vernon neighborhood to the south, and Station North to the north. Originally called Union Station because it served the Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railway, it was renamed to match other Pennsylvania Stations in 1928.[4]

The building sits 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 (NEC). The NEC approaches from the south through the two-track, 7,660-foot Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, which opened in 1873 and whose 30 mph limit, sharp curves, and steep grades make it one of the NEC's worst bottlenecks. The NEC's northern approach is the 1873 Union Tunnel, which has one single-track bore and one double-track bore.

Penn Station is the eighth-busiest rail station in the United States by number of passengers served each year.[2]


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, D.C., and Perryville. Amtrak Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains from Penn Station serve destinations along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. Some Regional trains from the station continue into Virginia and serve Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk, Roanoke, and points in between. Other long-distance trains from the station serve:

In the 1970s and 1980s, Amtrak also offered service to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Missouri, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Before Amtrak's creation on May 1, 1971, Penn Station served as the main Baltimore station for its original owner, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), though passenger trains of the Western Maryland Railway also used Penn Station as well. Until the late 1960s, the PRR 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.[5]

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 is also used for MARC train storage during the weekends and overnight via off-peak service times on tracks 1, 3, 5, and F.


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).[6]

The old station was demolished in January 1910.

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 referred to the station by its former name, "Union Station in Baltimore."

Male/Female sculpture controversy[edit]

In 2004, the City of Baltimore, through its public arts program, commissioned 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.

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

Station services[edit]

Penn Station offers a magazine store that sells quick necessities, and two restaurants, including Dunkin' Donuts, and Java Moon Cafe. Parking is available at the station through a garage with 550 parking spaces, owned by the Baltimore Parking Authority. ZipCar also has three vehicles based at the station.

Proposed hotel and remodel[edit]

Penn Station's interior

Several 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.[7] This project was never completed. The proposal resurfaced in 2006 with a new, unnamed developer.[8] 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.[9] This project was later reported as stalled along with many other hotel proposals in Baltimore.[10]


  1. ^ "MARC Station Information".
  2. ^ a b "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2017, State of Maryland" (PDF). Amtrak Government Affairs. November 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  3. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  4. ^ Barbara Hoff (April 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Pennsylvania Station" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  5. ^ "Amtrak - Baltimore, MD (BAL)". TrainWeb. January 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  6. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (September 11, 2011). "Baltimore's Reconstructed Railroad Station Opened 100 Years Ago This Week". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Cohn, Meredith (9 August 2001). "Hotel Planned in Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  8. ^ Mirabella, Lorraine (14 March 2006). "Amtrak revives its plan for hotel at Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  9. ^ Gunts, Edward (May 29, 2009). "Amtrak: Baltimore Penn Station to Hotel". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 29, 2009.
  10. ^ "Hotel projects in Baltimore stalled or scrapped". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 28 August 2014.

External links[edit]

All of the following are filed under Baltimore, Independent City, MD: