Governor Announces Plans to Revamp Penn Station

Governor Announces Plans to Revamp Penn Station

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, everything is in place to renovate Pennsylvania Station. The announcement is made after a couple dozen years of back-and-forth action between city officials looking to revamp the transportation hub.

The History of Penn Station

Also known as New York Penn Station or simply as Penn Station, Pennsylvania Station is the main intercity railroad station in New York City. The station serves more than 600,000 commuter rail nd Amtrak passengers with 1,200 trains each day. This equates to up to 1,000 passengers every 90 seconds. As such, it is the business passenger transportation facility on the continent.  Located completely underground in the midtown area of Manhattan beneath Madison Square Garden, the station is near to the Empire State Building, Herald Square, the Macy’s department store and Koreatown.

With 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels, Penn Station is at the center of the Northeast Corridor that connects Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.  While the intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which owns the stations, the commuter rail is operated by Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. Unlike most train stations, Penn Station does not have a unified floor plan or design. Rather, it is divided into separate concourses with each maintained and styled in a different manner. The Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street level.

The original Penn Station, which was inspired by the Gare d’Orsay and featured ornate and marble and granite fixtures, was built from 1901 to 1910 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The station as demolished in the 1950s following a decline in passenger usage and was reconstructed from 1963 to 1969. The current station, which underwent additional renovations in the 1990s, has three underground levels. Despite these improvements, the station is often criticized for its low ceilings and lack of charm, particularly when compared to the ornate Grand Central Terminal.

Revamping Penn Station

Governor Cuomo unveiled the plans to revamp Penn Station at a luncheon for business the business organization Association for a Better New York. The plans call for creating a train hall and retail space at the General Post Office located at the west side of Eight Avenue. Plans further call for renovating all platforms and passageways across the avenue at Penn Station.

Known as the James A. Farley Building, the Post Office is expected to be the official home of Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road by 2020. By making the move, authorities hope to relieve some of the Penn Station congestion. Developers Vornado Realty, Related Companies and Skansa AB have been named as collaborators on the initiative. They will reportedly pay $600 million for the rights to the project, while the total cost for the project is expected to reach $3 billion.

The proposed plan for the redesign comes from Vishaan Chakrabarti, who is the founder of the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. Chakrabarti was also the director of Manhattan’s Department of City Planning under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He also oversaw the prior revamping of the station.