Friday, August 18, 2017

Construction under way on NY Penn expansion

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More than a half-century after the cashed-strapped, bankruptcy-headed Pennsylvania Railroad demolished the original, spacious and beautiful Pennsylvania Station New York, selling the air rights to developers and leaving a largely maligned, overcrowded underground complex in its place, construction is finally under way to transform the former Farley Post Office Building, across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station, into a grand new train station.

Moynihan04b JMCalisiThe centerpiece of the new station, dubbed “Moynihan Station,” is Moynihan Train Hall, a 255,000-square-foot, spacious, skylight-topped concourse for MTA Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers that will increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50%. The light-filled Train Hall will be much like that of the original Penn Station, which opened in 1910. The skylight will contain an acre of glass to provide natural light that will filter down through the escalators to the train platforms.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Aug. 17 announced start of major construction on Moynihan Train Hall during a ground-breaking ceremony. He said the new facility will be “everything Penn Station is not.”

“The Penn Station experience is so horrible—the density, the darkness. This is the exact opposite. It’s spacious, it’s light, it reduces stress, it reduces anxiety, and it’s one of these grand spaces that says New York—it has a style to it,” Cuomo told long-time New York City broadcast journalist Marcia Kramer of CBS2. “It will stand the test of time, it will handle the increased volume, but it will also say, ‘Welcome to New York.’”

Moynihan Station, including Moynihan Train Hall, will consist of 700,000 square feet of commercial, retail and dining space, with a mezzanine containing cafes and shops. “Picture that with shops and cafes ringing this area, with people being able to look over the balcony down to the train floor. Eleven escalators take you right down to the platforms. This is going to be a destination, I believe, in and of itself,” much like Washington D.C. Union Station became when it was overhauled in 1986.

Moynihan Station is expected to cost $1.6 billion and is scheduled for completion in 2020, the same year as the next Presidential election, when Cuomo may be the likely Democratic Party nominee.

Moynihan Station is named in honor of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), whose dream it was to transform the Farley Building into a new Penn Station. “I’m in a state of shock, because on my father’s death bed in 2003 I vowed to him I would try to get the station built,” Moynihan’s daughter, Maura, said. “Governor Cuomo will forever be praised by the nearly one million commuters who have to suffer the indignity of the pit for releasing them from Purgatory.”

Editor’s note: Though the current Penn Station has been described as “a hole in the ground,” a “pit,” “Purgatory,” “dense,” “dark” and other choice terms, over the past 20 years some significant improvements have been made. Among these are New Jersey Transit’s East End Concourse, opened in the early 2000s, and the LIRR concourse, which was rebuilt and opened in the early 1990s. These facilities will of course remain in service.

Photo of Andrew Cuomo by Joseph M. Calisi







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