The New York Times editorialized thusly in 1963:
“Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”
And an anonymous Wikipedia scribe described the mood just prior to the moment:
A point made in the defense of the demolition of the old Penn Station at the time was that the cost of maintaining the old structure had become prohibitive. The question of whether it made sense to preserve a building, intended to be a cost-effective and functional piece of the city’s infrastructure, simply as a monument to the past was raised in defense of the plans to demolish it.
Not that we’d ever do such a thing, here in the shadow of the shiny new Devon tower.
(NYT editorial found at Maggie’s Farm.)