Tony Judt ‘Bring Back the Rails’ (Part II)

Part II of Judt’s essay published in the New York Review of Books
(January 13, 2011 • Volume 58, Number 1)

“The future of railways, a morbidly grim topic until very recently, is of more than passing interest. It is also quite promising. The aesthetic insecurities of the first post–World War II decades—the “New Brutalism” that favored and helped expedite the destruction of many of the greatest achievements of nineteenth-century public architecture and town planning—have passed. We are no longer embarrassed by the rococo or neo-Gothic or Beaux Arts excesses of the great railway stations of the industrial age and can see such edifices instead as their designers and contemporaries saw them: as the cathedrals of their age, to be preserved for their sake and for ours. The Gare du Nord and the Gare d’Orsay in Paris; Grand Central Station in New York and Union Station in St. Louis; St. Pancras in London; Keleti Station in Budapest; and dozens of others have all been preserved and even enhanced: some in their original function, others in a mixed role as travel and commercial centers, others still as civic monuments and cultural mementoes….”


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