Powerful Architecture

Original IRT Powerhouse, ca. 1906, Paul Hunter

The former Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Powerhouse stands as a majestic symbol of the City Beautiful era, designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White and constructed in 1904 to provide electricity for New York's first subway system.

In all of its Beaux-Arts glory, the IRT Powerhouse occupies a full city block on the West Side of Manhattan (11th to 12th Avenues, 58th to 59th Streets), recalling such magnificent monuments as the New York Public Library (Carrere & Hastings, 1897-1911), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Richard Morris Hunt, 1894-1902) and the late great Pennsylvania Station (McKim, Mead & White, 1910 - demolished 1963-65).

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In 2009, a graduate studio in Columbia University's Historic Preservation Master's Degree program completed a study of the Powerhouse.  Under the leadership of LW! Executive Director and Columbia adjunct professor Kate Wood, the students focused on the Powerhouse's history as a mode by which to explore its potential future.

To read the Columbia studio report, click here.

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