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Why a New Train Hall Won't Fix Penn Station

The $1.6-billion Moynihan Station will be a bright, spacious improvement on Penn Station’s depressing environs—but it will leave many problems unsolved.
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Empire State Development

New York’s Pennsylvania Station is among the most unpopular places anyone in the Northeast United States has to visit. Today’s station structure, shared with Madison Square Garden, is an urban renewal project from 1963 that replaced a majestic Beaux-Arts building, whose demolition provoked outrage and sparked the historic preservation movement. The late architectural historian Vincent Scully said of the original station, “Through it one entered the city like a god. … One scuttles in now like a rat.” In the current station, passengers have to endure narrow passageways, confusing wayfinding, and a scramble through overcrowded staircases and escalators to reach the tracks.

But now a major overhaul is under way, at a cost of $1.6 billion: Moynihan Station. This project, developed as a public-private partnership and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, began construction last year. It is rehabilitating the James A. Farley Post Office adjacent to Penn Station to turn it into a new station facility for passengers of Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuter trains. Facilities for another commuter system, New Jersey Transit (NJT), will stay where they are.