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  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

A Day at the Moynihan Train Hall: New York City’s Expansion of Penn Station

New York City


Moynihan Train Hall in New York City
Moynihan Train Hall in New York City

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Moynihan Train Hall in New York City, an expansion of the Pennsylvania Station. Located across Eighth Avenue from the original Penn Station, between 31st and 33rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, this train hall is a significant addition to New York's transportation infrastructure.

 

Moynihan Train Hall serves as a hub for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers. It's a part of the Pennsylvania Station complex, the busiest transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere and a key connector in the Northeast Corridor.





“After years of planning and construction, Moynihan Train Hall opened on January 1, 2021. The project aimed to alleviate congestion at Penn Station and restore a sense of grandeur lost when the original Penn Station was demolished in 1963.”

The train hall is named after the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who proposed the idea in the early 1990s. The concept was to convert the James A. Farley Post Office Building, a historic building, into a new train hall. This post office, designed by McKim, Mead & White, was built in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1912, mirroring the original Penn Station.


Moynihan Train Hall in New York City
Moynihan Train Hall in New York City

After years of planning and construction, Moynihan Train Hall opened on January 1, 2021. The project aimed to alleviate congestion at Penn Station and restore a sense of grandeur lost when the original Penn Station was demolished in 1963.

 

The highlight of Moynihan Train Hall is its impressive 92-foot high skylight, which illuminates a spacious 255,000-square-foot area. This skylight arches over the main hall, a design inspired by the original Penn Station. The integration of modern technology with historic architecture is seamless, preserving the building's original features while adding contemporary conveniences.

 

Navigating through the train hall was a breeze, thanks to clear signage and a well-thought-out layout. The waiting areas are comfortable, and there are ample amenities like Wi-Fi, charging stations, and a variety of retail and food options.

 

As a nod to New York's art scene, the hall also features installations by prominent artists. These artworks add an extra layer of charm and culture to the already impressive architecture.


Moynihan Train Hall in New York City
Moynihan Train Hall in New York City

Moynihan Train Hall Facts and Features

 

1. Design and Architecture: The design of Moynihan Train Hall was led by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The firm aimed to create a space that respects the architectural integrity of the original Farley Post Office while introducing a modern transit facility. The hall's design emphasizes openness and light, which contrasts with the often cramped and dark spaces of the adjoining Penn Station.

 

2. Art Installations: The hall houses impressive art installations, including a trio of large-scale pieces. Notable among them is "The Hive" by artist Elmgreen & Dragset, a sculpture that represents the busy activity of a train station. Another significant piece is "Pennsylvania Station’s Half Century" by artist Kehinde Wiley, a stained-glass triptych that pays homage to the old Penn Station’s architectural beauty.

 

3. Sustainability: The redevelopment project prioritized sustainability. The building incorporates energy-efficient systems and materials, aiming to reduce its environmental impact. The skylight, for example, not only aesthetically enhances the space but also plays a role in reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

 

4. Historical Preservation: The project involved the restoration of many historical elements of the Farley Post Office, including the restoration of the building's façade and the preservation of its original steel trusses. This blend of old and new is a key feature of the hall's design philosophy.


Moynihan Train Hall in New York City
Moynihan Train Hall in New York City

5. Passenger Amenities: The hall offers improved amenities for passengers, including a more spacious and comfortable waiting area, improved ticketing and baggage facilities, and a better variety of dining and shopping options. This enhancement of passenger experience is a significant upgrade from the older Penn Station facilities.

 

6. Impact on Penn Station: The opening of Moynihan Train Hall is part of a broader plan to revitalize the Penn Station area. It’s expected to relieve congestion in Penn Station by redistributing passenger traffic. The project is a critical step in the long-term vision of transforming the Penn Station complex into a more passenger-friendly and aesthetically pleasing transportation hub.

 

7. Cultural Significance: The hall's opening was a significant cultural event for New York City, symbolizing a recommitment to public transportation and urban renewal. It stands as a contemporary landmark linking the city’s illustrious past with its forward-looking present.


The Moynihan Train Hall is an example of New York's commitment to preserving its history while embracing modernity. For anyone traveling through New York City, especially by rail, a visit to this architectural delight is well worth the time.


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