It took almost three decades for the transformation of Moynihan Train Hall to reach its goal.
The successful conversion of the massive Farley Post Office continues Eighth Avenue the modern train station was overshadowed by a pandemic that decimated the number of train passengers. But the newly opened 255,000-square-foot hall west of Penn Station has already brought Instagrammers and others wearing masks, all eager to roam the heavenly space and the artistic interior.
The original Pennsylvania station – revered for its high vaulted ceiling and pink granite – was demolished in 1963 to make room for Madison Square Garden. Since then, Penn Station has been an objectively horrible experience for 600,000 passengers a day (before the pandemic) trying to find their way through a dizzying transit corridor crammed under the arena.
Unfortunately, this will continue for subway riders and NJ Transit. The new train hall will only serve Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers.
Moynihan Train Hall worth $ 1.6 billion could not be more different from its counterpart across the street. The project was the result of a public-private partnership between the state and the initial joint venture with Vornado Realty Trust, related companies and Skanska. The SOM architects took the lead in the design of the train hall. The plans for the new hall were first promoted almost 30 years ago by US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from New York.
“The original Penn station is not restored.” It was a masterpiece and a different time and time, “said SOM senior design architect Jon Cicconi during a tour of the new train hall last week. “We really wanted to restore the feeling of grandeur and dignity of the train travel experience in the city.”
The design team sought to reflect some of the hallmarks of the original Penn Station, most notably glass skylights and vaulted ceilings, Cicconi said.
Skylights create a sense of space and were originally installed in a building in the early 20th century, but were covered during World War II. The new train hall also uses the original steel beams and existing tracks that sat at the bottom of the building.
As another tribute to classic train stations, Moynihan uses Tennessee Quaker marble as a stone at Grand Central Station and the original post office, Cicconi said.
Proponents of the station believe that this is a step in the right direction, which could lead to the reconstruction of Penn Station, because it would create a breathing room there.
Five years ago, the government of Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted an application rediscover Penn Station. One option is to remove Madison Square Garden. Last year, the governor unveiled a plan to acquire a complete city block south of Penn Station and build another terminal.
However, Cuomo did not propose the relocation of the sports arena, which lawyers say allows for a complete and proper reconstruction of Penn Station. The city council extended the garden permit for only 10 years, until 2023, to take this possibility into account.
Cuomo now says the High Line, which runs along the Far West Side and across the Hudson Yards, will gain new speed to connect to the Moynihan train hall.