Pennsylvania Station (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]

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]
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
BWI Airport Acela Express Wilmington
Vermonter Wilmington
toward St. Albans
BWI Airport Northeast Regional Aberdeen
Washington, D.C.
toward Chicago
Cardinal Wilmington
toward New York
Washington, D.C.
toward Charlotte
Washington, D.C. Crescent
BWI Airport
toward Savannah
Washington, D.C.
toward Miami
Silver Star
Silver Meteor
Preceding station MARC Following station
West Baltimore Penn Line Martin State Airport
towards Perryville
Preceding station MTA Maryland Following station
Mt. Royal (University of Baltimore/MICA) Light RailLink
Penn–Camden Shuttle
Former services
Preceding station Pennsylvania Railroad Following station
Edmondson Avenue Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Biddle Street
toward Harrisburg
Northern Central Railway Calvert Street
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
New Carrollton
toward Tri-State
Hilltopper Aberdeen
BWI Airport Metroliner Wilmington
toward New York
New Carrollton Montrealer Wilmington
toward Montreal
Harrisburg National Limited Capital Beltway
Capital Beltway Montrealer Wilmington
toward Montreal
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

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]


The station is the northern terminus of the Baltimore Light RailLink's Penn-Camden shuttle, connecting the Mount Vernon neighborhood with downtown; the southern terminus is Baltimore's Camden Station. It is also a major station on MARC's Penn Line commuter service to Washington. Most Penn Line trains terminate here, with some continuing to Martin State Airport or Perryville.

Amtrak owns the station, which serves nine of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor services. 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:

Although Amtrak owns the station, its Superliner railcars cannot enter due to inadequate clearances in the B&P and Union tunnels.

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

Penn Station's interior

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. It was also served by numerous PRR commuter trains to Washington, the ancestor of the MARC Penn Line. Well-known streamliners of other railroads, such as the Southern Railway's "Southerner" and all-Pullman "Crescent Limited", the Atlantic Coast Line's "Champion", and the Seaboard's "Silver Meteor", were operated by the PRR between New York and Washington, stopping at Baltimore's Penn Station to board passengers destined for southern points served by those railroads.

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 2, 3, 5, and 8.

Station servicesEdit

Penn Station offers a magazine store that sells quick necessities, and two restaurants: 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.


Pennsylvania Station opened on September 15, 1911. The present station is the third railroad depot on its North Charles Street site. The first one was a wooden structure built by the Northern Central Railway, a subsidiary of the PRR, 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] It was demolished in January, 1910, for construction of the present edifice.

Savarin Restaurant, Pennsylvania Station (ca. 1930s)

In the 1920s-1940s, Savarin Restaurants provided full-service dining rooms at Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station and Washington's Union Station, among others. The Savarin Restaurant, located at the west end of Baltimore's station, was originally decorated with Chesapeake Bay-themed murals and had an entrance and exterior signage directly fronting Charles Street. By the early 1960s, the Savarin had ended table service and offered counter-service only.

Pennsylvania Station has been the region's primary intercity railroad station since the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad ended all passenger service north of Baltimore in 1958, subsequently closing Mount Royal Station in 1961 and eventually reducing service at Camden Station to local commuter trains only by 1971.

Checkers speechEdit

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 controversyEdit

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, with The Baltimore Sun reporting what it called a "maelstrom of criticism".[7] Its defenders cite the contemporary imagery and artistic expression as complementing an urban landscape, while opponents criticize what they decry as a clash with the station's Beaux-Arts architecture and detracting from its classic lines.[8][9] The Baltimore Sun editorially characterized it as "oversized, underdressed, and woefully out of place".[10]

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

Development around stationEdit

Several proposals have been made to convert the upper floors of the station into a hotel. Proposals from 2001 and 2006 were announced but never completed.[11][12] In 2009, Amtrak reached an agreement with a developer for a 77-room hotel to be called The Inn at Penn Station.[13] This project stalled along with many other hotel proposals in Baltimore.[14]

In December 2017, Amtrak awarded a contract to Penn Station Partners for improvements to the station and redevelopment of nearby property owned by the passenger railroad. The partnership is composed of Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners.[15] In April, 2019, it was announced that development would encompass a transit-oriented hub of apartments, shops, offices, a hotel, and redevelopment of nearby property owned by the passenger railroad.[16] Amtrak describes the plan as creating a premier regional transportation hub to accommodate passenger growth as the next generation of high-speed Acela Express trains start running along the Northeast Corridor in 2021.[16] A spokesman for Penn Station Partners stated at a presentation of its tentative plans to the public on August 13, 2019, that they will seek city and state funding to help pay the total $400–600 million project cost. Included would be a new concourse and other station enhancements to accommodate the expected increase in passenger volume. Amtrak, for its part, has earmarked $90 million in federal funding for related improvements to the station and its tracks.[15]


  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 Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  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. ^ Tkacik, Christina (July 5, 2019). "Monument City". Baltimore Sun. p. Wknd 13.
  8. ^ Rodricks, Dan (August 26, 2007). "Bawlmer bizarre–what a relief". The Baltimore Sun. p. 3B.
  9. ^ Rosen, Jill (July 17, 2008). "Fake forest hides in plain sight". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1C.
  10. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (January 7, 2006). "The art of the railroad station". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Cohn, Meredith (August 9, 2001). "Hotel Planned in Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  12. ^ Mirabella, Lorraine (March 14, 2006). "Amtrak revives its plan for hotel at Penn Station". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Gunts, Edward (May 29, 2009). "Amtrak: Baltimore Penn Station to Hotel". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 29, 2009.
  14. ^ "Hotel projects in Baltimore stalled or scrapped". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  15. ^ a b Campbell, Colin (August 15, 2019). "Public funds eyed for Penn Station project". Baltimore Sun. pp. 1 and 11.
  16. ^ a b Mirabella, Lorraine (April 4, 2019). "Amtrak strikes deal to redevelop Penn Station with Baltimore developers, investing $90 million". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 6, 2019.

External linksEdit

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