Does it happen to you that you live in a city, visit or pass by its landmarks often and don’t think twice about it? Then you see an Instagram photo or a blog post about your city and realize that sometimes you take its most treasured sights for granted? Or don’t stop to appreciate them more often?
I attended college in Philadelphia (at the University of Pennsylvania) and after graduating I lived in New York City and then northern Virginia for seven years, returning regularly to Philadelphia for visits back to campus or to see friends. Traveling to Philadelphia, I rode the train – NJ Transit and SEPTA to and from New York City or Amtrak to and from Washington, DC. I would get off the train at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and hurry on my way, rarely stopping to appreciate the station itself.
Once I moved to California, I returned to Philadelphia several times a year for work, but my arrivals into Philadelphia were via the airport. I rarely visited 30th Street Station.
Last week I returned to the east coast for a wedding and to visit family and friends. We were staying with friends in New Jersey, and since I did not have a car, I rode SEPTA from Trenton, New Jersey, to visit Philadelphia for the day.
As I arrived into 30th Street Station, I stopped to wonder. The station has been refurbished in recent years, returned to its original glory, and it is truly an architectural and historical sight to see.
The ceiling is so high with columns at either end of the station, lending to its stately presence.
The regional SEPTA trains do not depart from the main tracks in the central hall, but to access those tracks you must walk through this grand space.
The hall below is in-between the main center hall and the area of the station with Amtrak ticket windows and rental car agencies. I like that it is kept simple and open. Passengers are lined up for one of the Amtrak tracks accessed from the main hall.
The flipping train schedule board is in the center of the main hall. A few days after I visited the station, news broke that the sign would be replaced by an LED sign. I wish I had recorded video of the sign changing. As I was taking pictures, I heard the clack, clack, clack as the train departure and arrival information changed, and it made me smile.
I found this video by director and producer Max Goldberg of five five collective that pays homage to the arrival board. It captures the sound of the board changing!
The station’s exterior is covered with scaffolding as apparently work is being completed. There is a modern sign in front that is new. Behind the flags in the photo below the awning covering the SEPTA tracks can be seen. The area inside the scaffolding features a food court. There is also a news stand and florist.
Located across the Schuylkill River from Center City Philadelphia, 30th Street Station is a convenient hub for commuters and tourists alike to access Philadelphia. The building itself is worth a visit even if you are not taking a train into the city.
When I rushed to catch a train later that night, I did not have time to stop and take photos, but I did look around with wonder and appreciation of the architecture of this beautiful building.