Grand, central, these spectacular edifices were once stations, humming with humanity. Now they are colossal relics, vessels of nostalgia and irony. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre capture them for our photo essay, from the Great Lakes to the Pyrenees. Text by Edward Carr
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, July/August 2013
Central stations are built to be crowded and restless. They are springboards for people who have somewhere else to go and someone else to see. They quicken the pulse with the anticipation of movement and the promise of something new. City stations are also symbols. Trains thrust into them, people burst onto their platforms and then seep out into the surrounding streets—as if Freud himself had a hand in their design.
The stations on these pages sought to deny all this transience. Not since the medieval masons tried to render God in buttresses and vaults had so much stone been devoted to the assertion of permanence. Even so, the trains stopped coming and the crowds dried up. Their empty booking halls stand as monuments to all that is fleeting and half-remembered. Their waiting rooms echo to the ghosts of vanished lives.
Pictured: Buffalo, New York
The waiting hall at Buffalo Central Terminal is vast, but it’s a lot smaller than the main hall, glimpsed through the arched windows to the left. Rich wooden benches once crossed the hall; they are gone now, as is the clock on the far wall