This relief has nothing to do with Berkeley. It is named The Spirit of Transportation, made by Karl Bitter in 1895 and placed in the waiting room of Broad Street Station Philadelphia. And – it is a fine example of high relief because of the amount of depth shown. I had for years considered it bas relief. I was wrong!
The plaque below the relief tells us that “The spirit of transportation is represented by a triumphal procession of progress led by a little child carrying a model of an airship, a prophetic vision of a mode of transportation to come.”
It was moved to the north waiting room at the 30th Street Station in 1933. It is very near the restroom where the Amish child witnesses a murder in “Witness.”
The 30th Street Station is a sacred place for me.
It was when I was a boy and when I was in college at Penn and the station was grimy and in need of rehabilitation.
It is today, rehabilitated in the early 1990s, glorious. The sense of trains going places and people bustling, coming and going, and the soaring beauty for the sake of beauty – it moves me. And of knowing that my parents and grandparents and great grandparents all walked here – that adds to my feelings for this place.
One VERY brief digression within a digression? I never knew Broad Street Station and 30th Street is the Crown Jewel, but there was also the North Philadelphia Station. My father commuted to New York from here for years. In the summer of 1969 we drove to the North Philadelphia station together early in the morning and I continued on to my job at the Ladybug warehouse in northeast Philadelphia. My memories here are limited, but strong.
I have strong emotional ties to 30th Street, but those ties aside, I love The Spirit of Transportation relief.
A second relief manifestation in my youth was in Suburban Square in Ardmore, about which I previously posted. I expand that look at Suburban Square with these relief panels from the Times Building, where my dentist Dr. Zimmerman had his office.
These bas relief panels, especially the Spirit of Transportation, perhaps explain my attraction to relief in Berkeley.
My friend knows 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. He “digs” the relief, but mourns the closing of Horn and Hardart’s small retail store that was on the south side of the great hall in our days in Philadelphia. Like me, my friend has a fondness of cup custard. Individually and together we often stopped and bought a small cup custard there. What about these photos?