© George Grantham Bain collection Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons
American cities boast some of the most amazing modern architecture in the world, but some iconic buildings that once featured prominently on skylines all over the country have succumbed to time and changing trends. Here are some of the most amazing train stations, office buildings and hotels that are no longer there.
Union Station, Atlanta
Built in 1871 to replace an old station which had burned down in 1864, Union Station served as a main connection hub for trains traveling to and from Atlanta, Georgia until it was replaced in 1930 by another station by the same name a few blocks away.
It was built in Second Empire style, designed by architect Max Corput. Located at what is now Wall Street between Pryor Street and Central Avenue, the site of the former great station is now occupied by a multi-storey car-park.
Savoy Plaza Hotel, New York City
The Savoy Plaza Hotel once stood on the coveted intersection of Fifth Avenue and 59th street, overlooking Central Park. The 33-storey, 5-star hotel was opened in 1927 by Harry S. Black, the owner of the Plaza Hotel. The Savoy-Plaza remained open and popular for years.
With over 1,000 rooms, the Savoy-Plaza (the one with the steep sloped roof in the middle of the photo) was eventually demolished in 1965 to make way for the new GM headquarters. There was significant public outcry over the fate of the iconic hotel. But there was no saving it. Today the 50-storey GM Building still stands where the old Savoy-Plaza once did, but it’s no longer the company’s headquarters.
Detroit City Hall, Detroit
The old Detroit City Hall first opened it’s doors in 1871, after a decade of construction work. It served as the seat for local government, and featured an observation level below the bell tower, reached by climbing 1,512 steps. It overlooked the handsome Campus Martius Park in Downtown Detroit, which has also since been demolished and rebuilt.
Though the building was considered a fine example of Renaissance revival architecture, it faced calls for demolition from as early as 1891, barely two decades since its inauguration. Its fate was sealed for demolition in 1955 when the new City-County Building was opened nearby and the city’s government moved. Though the people of Detroit campaigned for preservation, the old City Hall was pulled down in 1961.
Chicago Federal Building, Chicago
The Chicago Federal Building was once one of the biggest buildings in the city with a rotunda larger than that of the Capital Building in Washington, DC. It stood for sixty years, from its completion in 1905 to its quiet demolition in 1965. It used to house the Mid-West’s Federal Courts, after the 1893 World Fair led to an explosion of population in the city requiring new facilities.
The Beaux Arts building designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb was a city treasure, and was 297 feet tall. As well as federal courts, it housed a vast post office facility that once employed Walt Disney, in his pre-animation days. It was demolished in 1965 to make way for the Kluczynski Federal Building, designed by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. The new Federal complex is an even bigger federal facility, and was completed with critical appraise in 1974.
City Investing Building, New York
Completed in 1908, the City Investing Building in New York City (second tallest building in the picture) was one of Manhattan’s largest towers, with 33 storeys. Alongside its neighbors, the Singer Building and the Hudson Terminal, the City Investing Building was one of the most photographed buildings of the time and part of the classic NYC skyline.
The magnificent building was one of the original skyscrapers that made New York City the high-rise metropolis it is today. Pictured here are the lobby, and the street level facade. It served as a desirable office building until the mid-1960s, but was demolished in 1968 to make way for the US Steel Building, now One Liberty Plaza.
Singer Building, New York City
Built directly beside the City Investing Building, the Singer Building was the tallest structure in the world at the time. The 47-storey office building completed in 1908 as the headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company. It’s the tallest building in this picture, with the steeple-like roof.
Although New York had just created a Landmarks Preservation Commission by the time demolition commenced in 1967, the Singer Building didn’t receive landmark designation. Though it was considered a NYC architectural icon, it was demolished with the City Investing Building to make way for the US Steel Building. At the time it was the tallest building ever demolished and remains the third tallest building to ever be torn down.
Morrison Hotel, Chicago
Completed in 1925, the Morrison Hotel in Chicago was a local institution until it was torn down in 1965. It hosted many famous guests like Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy and Vice-Presidents Barkley and Nixon, as well as wrestler Gorgeous George. It was the first building outside of New York to have more than 40 floors.
Though it was the tallest hotel in the world, The Morrison was demolished in 1965 to make room for the First National Bank Building (now Chase Tower).
Pennsylvania Station, New York
Completed in 1910, the original Pennsylvania Station was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style and one of the architectural gems of New York City. It was one of the first rail terminals to separate arriving from departing passengers on two concourses, but as rail travel fell out of favor in the US in the 1950s, the station was slated for redevelopment.
There was such public outrage at the demolition in 1963, that many credit it as the advent of the movement for architectural preservation across the US. The station was replaced by Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Plaza between 1963 and 1969.
The Beach Hotel, Galveston
Galveston Texas is known as the ‘Playground of the South West’ and is the home of many hotels, but none were as beautiful or luxurious as The Beach Hotel. The red and white Victorian brick facade awed tourists and was a local landmark. It was built in 1882 at a price of US$260,000 (US$6.45 million in today’s terms), but was destroyed less then two decades later in 1989 in a mysterious fire. It was never rebuilt.
Glines Canyon Dam, Callan County
Built in 1927 as a private energy generation facility, Glines Canyon Dam generated electricity for industries and major military installations on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.The Glines Canyon Hydroelectric Power Plant historic district, an area spanning 7-acres and comprising of the dam, the powerhouse, and the water conveying system, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was eventually demolished in 2014, and remains the tallest dam ever to be intentionally breached. Since the dam’s removal, there has been an intense effort to restore the natural ecosystem in the Elwha River where there is a thriving wild salmon population.
King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium, AKA Kingdome, was a multi-purpose stadium in Seattle. It was the home stadium of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball, and the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association, and could sit up to 66,000 sports fans.
In the mid-1990s, each of the three sports teams started to question the suitability of Kingdome for all three different sports, and eventually each moved to specifically designed facilities. The Kingdome was demolished in 1999, and made way or the Seahawks stadium, which was completed in 2002.