Walking New York City: Penn Station

It must be said: Penn Station in New York City (between 7th and 8th Avenues, 31st and 33rd Streets, not far from Macys on 34th Street) is truly one of the least pleasant, most confusing, claustrophobic, crowded and unhappy major transport terminals I have experienced.  Low ceilings, circuitous routes, little seating, difficult access to railway tracks (don’t you love the New Jersey transit track ‘lottery’ when every stands around in crushed impatience waiting for a track to be called and then all rushes the small two-metre door at the same time), oh yes, Penn Station has it all.  It is also the busiest in New York, and is the main terminal for New Jersey Transit trains, the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak (the busiest Amtrak station in the USA, double the 2nd busiest – Union Station in Washington DC) – as well as being served by the subway lines: 1, 2, 3, A, C and E, and only one block away (6th Avenue and 34th Street) from the Path train and the N, Q, R, W, B, D, F & M subway lines.  The streets surrounding Penn Station are some of the very busiest in New York City, the taxi pick up area is a mess.  Not a happy place.

Here’s a slide show of the current station.  What a shame, as it was not always this way:  When the original Penn Station was completed in 1910, it was grand and beautiful.

Click here for some more photos. But the redevelopment czars had their way in New York in the 1960s, commencing its destruction in 1963.

And now, guess what?  They are talking about re-making it grand again – again only fifty years since the original desecration.  It is to be re-built across the street in the James Farley Post Office (post code 10001 – now, that’s a cool number, that’s the postcode we had when we lived on West 27th Street, just four blocks away). There is a great New Yorker cover from 19 September 2011 which features this post office:

Check out photos of this post office here.  I used this post office many times and assure you – it looks just like this!  Here are some photos I took:

The new station is to be called Moynihan Station, named after the late Senator from New York (who served 24 years).  Not a moment too soon, but don’t hold your breath waiting: in my two months in New York in late 2011 I read The New York Times every day and saw not one mention of the new Penn Station.

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