NEW YORK | Penn Station

The Best Tourist Attractions that No Longer Exist

Posted on February 17, 2014

Original Pennsylvania Station (New York)

The current Penn Station may be a charmless catacomb of labyrinthine low-ceiling hallways, but New York’s first Penn Station was a lavish masterpiece of the Beaux Arts style.

The original facility’s domed ceilings, soaring archways and handsome columns welcomed more than 100 million passengers each year during the station’s golden era in the mid-1940s.

But by the end of the 1950s, the dawn of the Jet Age and the birth of the Interstate Highway System took a heavy toll on visitor numbers.

Plans for the new Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden were announced in 1962, and a year later, the original Penn Station was knocked to the ground to make room for a smaller facility underground.

The demolition of Penn Station in 1963 was not without controversy.

The New York Times questioned at the time how the city would “permit this monumental act of vandalism against one of the largest and finest landmarks of its age of Roman elegance.

The whole affair is regularly cited as the catalyst for the modern historical preservation movement in the United States.

Within a decade of Penn Station’s demolition, Grand Central Terminal was protected under New York City’s new Landmarks Preservation Act.

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American mass transit is dying

Sunday March 1, 2015

…It’s hard to overstate how important this is. Bad transit doesn’t just upset people, or encourage them to drive. It saps a city’s economic vitality. It extends distances, pushing people away from their jobs, their friends and their families. These urban transit systems are literally invaluable, in the sense that it is impossible to measure the scope of their contribution to their various regions.

That’s why it’s so sad to see them slowly asphyxiated by shortsighted politicians. In Washington, the WMATA must ask for money from a half-dozen regional governments each year, a situation that begets instability and discourages political accountability. In Boston, decades of disinvestment are beginning to bear fruit. In New York, the future of the region is being jeopardized by, of all people, a Democratic governor from Queens.

The underfunding of infrastructure in the U.S. is a broader phenomenon than these three examples. But transit seems particularly vulnerable to political malfeasance. As it happens, Boston, New York and Washington have proverbial front-row seats to an impending transit disaster on the railroad that connects the three cities. The only question is what will break first: the decrepit, dangerous Baltimore and Potomac tunnel or the flood-rusted Hudson River Tunnels connecting New Jersey to Penn Station? Either one would spill chaos onto nearby highways and airports. But it might also be, as they say, a teachable moment.


Hudson River Train Tunnels Wanted But Needs Money and a Plan: Officials

By Andrew Tangel on March 12th, 2015

Amtrak’s North River tunnels connect Amtrak’s New Jersey lines to Manhattan. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

A top federal transportation official on Thursday expressed support for digging new passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson River, as the current aging ones irk commuters with delays between New York and New Jersey.

But Peter Rogoff, the U.S. undersecretary of transportation for policy, cited two major hurdles in jump-starting a tunnel project: money and coordination among various government agencies.

“We would like to get on with it, but we are going to need funding growth to be able to address those kinds of projects,” Mr. Rogoff said.

Mr. Rogoff, who was in New York City for a meeting Thursday of the region’s top transportation officials, touted the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2016 proposed budget that calls for billions of dollars of additional funding for transportation projects across the country.

Amtrak’s proposed “Gateway” project, which includes the tunnels and other major upgrades, is estimated to cost $15 billion to $20 billion, a steep price tag in an era of tight budgets.

“For a project of this size and scope, you need a game-changing pot of funding specifically for construction,” Mr. Rogoff said.

Mr. Rogoff pointed to the president’s proposed budget, which includes about $50 billion in funding over six years that could potentially fund a tunnel project.

Top transportation officials in New York and New Jersey have been holding informal meetings about the Amtrak project in recent months. The talks have included Amtrak officials, and Mr. Rogoff has said federal transportation officials have also taken part.

The current two tunnels are more than a century old, and Amtrak has said it might need to shut them down for major repairs in the coming years, potentially choking rail traffic along the East Coast.


Four new Metro-North stations planned in the Bronx

By Frank Juliano on April 2nd, 2015

CT Post file photo/Frank Juliano

The 2015-16 New York state budget approved Wednesday includes money for four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, part of a project that would bring Metro North service from Connecticut into Penn Station.

The new stops would be at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point, and would provide access to rail travel to 93,000 residents of the outer borough, according to a statement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

New Haven Line trains pass through the Bronx as they go into and out from Grand Central Terminal, but the only stop in the Bronx is at Fordham.

All four of the planned stations would be on the New Haven Line route into Penn Station on the West Side of Manhattan, spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said, which is now expected to begin in 2020.

…New York’s state budget provides $250 million for the four new Bronx stations, expected to cost about $1 billion, with federal funds providing much of the rest.

Cuomo noted in his budget message that one of the highest concentrations of medical facilities in the United States is near the planned Morris Park station.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will have to negotiate a right-of-way for the new service from Amtrak, which owns the tracks from New Rochelle, N.Y., where Metro North’s service into Grand Central veers off into the west side of Manhattan.

There will also likely be some track and signal work needed, “but it’s a .lot of bang for not a lot of bucks,” said Anders, the Metro North spokesman.


Opinion: Making wise investments in our state’s infrastructure

By Stephen Sweeney and Loretta Weinberg on April 2nd, 2015

…The crisis we are facing is real. The Transportation Trust Fund that pays for repairs and improvements to our roads, bridges, and rail and bus lines will run out of money for new projects in 15 months. The only reason it is not going broke sooner is that the administration secretly cut spending by $175 million this year — even though we have some of the worst roads and bridges in the nation and motorists pay $605 a year extra in auto repairs as a result. The administration is planning to short it by at least $125 million this year as well.

The two 105-year-old obsolete, single-track rail tunnels that provide 200,000 passenger trips a day for New Jersey commuters to New York City jobs are operating at full capacity. These tunnels were badly damaged by Sandy and might have to close before a new rail tunnel can be built, which would make existing traffic jams worse and cripple our economy. Plans for a new rail tunnel to avert the crisis and meet increased ridership demand — as the ARC Tunnel project that was canceled five years ago would have done — are on hold awaiting funding.

Meanwhile, 230,000 New Jersey bus passenger trips a day are jammed into a Port Authority Bus Terminal that is overcrowded and decrepit.

No plans for rail expansion

The Bayonne Bridge is being rebuilt to accommodate massive new freighters that will vastly increase the cargo containers coming into Port Newark, but we have no plan to expand rail freight to keep increased truck traffic off the turnpike and Route 78, or serve the new distribution centers in Middlesex County.

One of the main reasons New Jersey ranks 48th in economic growth is our failure to make the investments in transportation infrastructure our parents and grandparents did. We cannot afford to be the first generation to shirk that responsibility.

It’s a question of political will and priorities.

We need the Port Authority to put the first $3 billion from the sale of its non-transportation-related real estate up as the local match to help Amtrak jump-start construction of the new $7.5 billion Gateway rail tunnel.

A new rail tunnel is critical not only to keep the trains running when Sandy-damaged tunnels close, but also to expand New Jersey’s rail lines and build a new Penn Station South to provide one-seat rides to commuters on the Bergen, Pascack Valley, Main, Montclair-Boonton, Raritan Valley and lower North Jersey Coast Lines and accommodate New Jersey rail ridership to New York that is expected to double by 2040.

Building the rail tunnel or replacing the rundown Port Authority Bus Terminal is not an “either-or” proposition. We need to do both, and if Port Authority officials are correct in assessing their non-transportation-related real estate at $6 billion to $8 billion, the remaining $3 billion to $5 billion should go into a new bus terminal to accommodate anticipated 50 percent bus ridership growth by 2040.

Lengthy article but has a lot of info. and ideas

Could the new Port Authority Bus Terminal actually be built in N.J.?

By Steven Strunsky on March 26th, 2015

At up to $10.5 billion, the projected cost of replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan was a jolt even to the agency’s own board members.

“I think we were all shocked by the number,” Port Authority Chairman John Degnan told reporters last Thursday, after agency staffers presented five alternatives for a new terminal complex, ranging from $7.5 billion to $10.5 billion, all of them at or near the current location just outside the Lincoln Tunnel.

But what if the agency could shave billions of dollars off that cost - and generate additional revenues on top of that – by building the new bus terminal in New Jersey?

Board members disappointed by last week’s projections said they wanted staff and hired experts to think “outside the box,” and for Vice Chairman Scott Rechler, that means outside Manhattan.

Next week, Rechler, Degnan and Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye will meet to talk about developing other bus terminal alternatives, including one that would situate the terminal west of the Hudson.

Rechler wants to investigate whether a bus terminal in New Jersey could be linked to a trans-Hudson rail line that would then carry commuters into Manhattan. One such line could involve the proposed Gateway commuter rail tunnel proposed by Amtrak, which in some sense may end up competing with the bus terminal for Port Authority and federal mass transit funding.

“There’s been all this talk from elected officials about making a choice between the trans-Hudson Gateway project and the bus terminal,” said Rechler, referring to the rail tunnel proposal, which is being led by Amtrak, and projected to cost $16-20 billion. “That’s $25 billion (for the tunnel and terminal combined), and we should look at it holistically, and we shouldn’t ignore the fact that we’ve got two problems to solve and we shouldn’t ignore a solution that solves both.”

Officials say the 65-year-old terminal is deteriorating and functionally obsolete. Its 230,000 average daily commuters is already well beyond capacity, with demand projected to grow to 330,000 by 2040.

Rechler said building a bus terminal in New Jersey would be cheaper and less disruptive than at or near the existing facility in Manhattan, where space is tight and ramps linking the new terminal to the Lincoln Tunnel would have to be built around the existing ramp network, all while current bus service remains in effect.

Relocating the terminal to New Jersey would also free up the three and half blocks along Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets now occupied by the old terminal, said Rechler, a real estate investor who is president and CEO of Manhattan-based RXR Realty. He said the site is an extremely valuable piece of real estate that the agency could sell or lease for more money than it would make through the sale of air rights if it were to build a new bus terminal built on the old site.


Around Penn. Station

Vornado Could Give New York’s Penn Station Area New Lease on Life

Firm is dominant landowner in down-on-its-heels area of Manhattan

By Elliot Brown on April 7, 2015

The down-on-its-heels Penn Station area in New York could get a new lease on life under a Vornado plan. PHOTO: CLAUDIO PAPAPIETRO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The area around New York’s Pennsylvania Station has long remained gritty and clogged with commuters as much of the rest of Manhattan has flourished.

Now Vornado Realty Trust is gearing up to change that.

One of the nation’s largest office landlords, Vornado is hoping to spark a revitalization of the area, where it is by far the dominant landowner, by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new retail space, public plazas and other infrastructure, according to real-estate executives briefed on the plans.

The aim is to improve the desirability of the area’s office buildings, which are now deemed to be in a second-rate location and thus draw second-tier rent. If successful, it could mean dramatic growth in property value for Vornado. The company owns about nine million square feet in the neighborhood, including the 57-story 1 Penn Plaza, a portfolio with an estimated value of about $5.5 billion, according to Green Street Advisors.

“There is no reason that we cannot achieve very, very substantial rising rents in Penn Plaza—very substantial, enormous—with a little TLC,” Vornado Chief Executive Steven Roth said at a Citigroup Inc. investor conference last month, according to a transcript. “That’s going to be the principal focus of Vornado in the next short period of time, [the] next couple of years.”

…Mr. Roth appears to be highly focused on the Penn Station area, where he gradually built up his holdings throughout the 2000s. He recently hired Marc Ricks, a former economic-development official who worked in the administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in part to work on the Penn Plaza plan. And the company contacted numerous architects last year for ideas about how to remake the area, and has showed some renderings to potential tenants.

Planning is still in early stages and specifics have yet to be decided. But the more-prominent ideas Vornado has shared with others include tearing down the retail space, and adding new retail, on the block of 1 Penn Plaza, a block north of Penn Station that currently holds a Duane Reade pharmacy and a Kmart, the executives briefed on the plans said.

The company also is hoping to make other moves meant to alleviate the congestion from commuters and tourists who clog sidewalks around Penn Station, the city’s busiest train station. For instance, Vornado hopes to shut down half of the street just north of the station, 33rd Street, and it is pondering remaking some entrances to Penn Station.

These ideas, which likely would need city or state approvals, appear to come on top of investments Vornado long has been planning related to a proposed expansion of Penn Station into the Farley Post Office. Vornado and the Related Cos. in 2005 were designated the developers of part of the post office and a mixed-use tower known as Moynihan Station.

Various proposals have come and gone for the post office, with little progress, though Vornado and Related have kept their status as the designated developers. Now, the state continues to work on a plan. Work has begun on a first phase of the project, $300 million in largely infrastructure work necessary for future expansion

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State Senate Dems to Port Authority: Make trans-Hudson commuters top priority

By Andrew George, May 6, 2015 at 1:48 PM

As the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gets set to host a full-day forum Thursday on how to expand and develop its Hudson River transportation options over the next 50 years, Senate Democrats are calling on the bi-state agency to make expanding trans-Hudson capacity its top priority going forward.

According to Senate Democrats, that would begin with the construction of a new rail tunnel and the redevelopment and expansion of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. Though the Port Authority has examined its options concerning both projects, neither are currently a part of the agency’s 10-year capital plan, Senate Democrats say.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said that, while the demand for rail and bus ridership between New York and New Jersey is expected to double by 2040, “Rail tunnels are already running trains through every two-and-a-half minutes, buses are lined up bumper to bumper at the Lincoln Tunnel and there is no capacity at Penn Station or the Port Authority Bus Terminal to handle the increased traffic.

“New Jerseyans make up almost 80 percent of trans-Hudson commuters, pay the lion’s share of the tolls and bear the brunt of the failure to invest in expanding and modernizing our trans-Hudson infrastructure,” Sweeney said.

The Port Authority should utilize the funds it will generate through the sale of non-transportation real estate to rebuild the bus terminal and offer a $3 billion match for Amtrak’s trans-Hudson Gateway Tunnel project, Senate Democrats said.

“It’s not a question of either-or, it’s both,” state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) said. “The Port Authority needs to reorder its priorities to replace the disgusting, deplorable

Port Authority Bus Terminal with a new facility and get the Gateway rail runnel built. New Jersey commuters are already paying enough into the system to get this done. Moreover, if one of the rail tunnels is closed down for repairs, bus ridership will increase even more and will make a new, expanded terminal even more urgent. It’s time to move on these projects.”

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More details on what needs to be replaced.

Port Authority chairman pledges to back Amtrak’s Hudson River tunnel project

By Christopher Magg on May 7th, 2015

The Port Authority will “step up to the plate” to help design, fund and build new train tunnels under the Hudson River, its chairman said Thursday, a sudden change in policy for the bi-state agency, which has not included funding for the massive project in its 10-year, $25 billion capital plan.

The shift by the Port Authority comes as Amtrak continues to work on the tunnel project, known as Gateway. Already, the federally chartered company has built the foundation for a new tunnel between 10th and 11th avenues on the West Side of Manhattan at a cost of $185 million. Now, phase two, to extend that effort west of 11th Avenue, is under way, said Amtrak board Chairman Anthony Coscia on Thursday.

“People are talking about Gateway as though it’s a future project. It’s not,” Coscia said. “We can’t wait for a starting gun. We’re moving ahead now.”

The statements came at a transportation planning event held Thursday at the One World Trade Center tower to discuss expanding bus and train transportation links between New York and New Jersey. Much of the discussion focused on the urgent need to replace the existing train tunnels, which are 104 years old and deteriorating due to damage caused by flooding from Superstorm Sandy. New tunnels have been talked about for years, and a previous effort that was under way was canceled in 2010 by Governor Christie, who cited potential cost overruns. The Gateway project could cost $10 billion to $15 billion, officials have said.

One set of tracks in the existing tunnel must be closed sometime in the next 20 years for a complete overhaul, Amtrak officials have said. When that happens, the maximum number of trains between the two states will drop from 24 per hour to six. That has placed pressure on officials to get a new project under way, one that could take years — possibly decades — to fund and build.

Amtrak has warned about the dramatic decrease in service for months, but Port Authority Chairman John Degnan said he did not hear about it until Thursday.

“That raises all kinds of fear levels,” Degnan said. “It convinces me that the Port Authority has to be part of the solution.”

…The undertaking is massive. In addition to just building the tunnels, projects for Gateway include:

• Penn South. Two new tunnels under the Hudson will require a new terminal in Manhattan, with the possible addition of two deeper tunnels and an expanded station later on, according to Amtrak. For Gateway, Amtrak plans to buy and demolish an entire city block immediately south of Penn Station.

• Moynihan Station. A $300 million project to relocate the Amtrak ticketing area across Eighth Avenue to the former James A. Farley Post Office and renovate Penn Station. The project is under way.

• Double Track. New tunnels will require two new tracks from Newark to the tunnels. That will mean expanding NJ Transit’s Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station in Secaucus, and updating the Swift Interlocking train yard in Kearny.

• Portal Bridge. The Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River at Secaucus was built in 1910 as a swing bridge to allow commercial ships to pass. The bridge often breaks and requires ongoing maintenance. Amtrak hopes to replace it with two high fixed bridges.

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Industry heavyweights eye a piece of Penn Station’s $3 billion redevelopment

A $3 billion plan to renovate Penn Station has attracted some of the city’s biggest developers.

Several large real estate landlords and builders—including Boston Properties, Brookfield, Related Cos., Silverstein Properties, Tishman Speyer and Vornado Realty Trust—attended a tour of the transit hub on Feb. 25, according to a document provided by the Empire State Development Corp.

> The state agency is overseeing a request for proposals to solicit a developer to improve the station with new retail, upgraded interior spaces and better entrances, including a plan to potentially relocate the Theater at Madison Square Garden and create a large glass opening to the station along Eighth Avenue.

Developers were also invited to bid on transforming the Farley Post Office Building, west of the Moynihan Station, would also accommodate retail stores and potentially also office and hotel space.

Other notable developers, including Madison Capital and JDS Development, the builder of what will be the tallest residential tower in Brooklyn, also participated in the site tour. It’s not clear which firms will submit bids, but sources said that most are likely to participate.

Potential lenders who may help finance the megaproject were also present. Among them were Bank of China, Barclays and Macquarie Capital. Architecture and construction firms, including Tishman Construction, Skanska, FX Fowle, Gensler, SOM, Tutor Perini and Thornton Tomasetti, were also present.

> Bids for the project, which would be paid for by private developers in return for revenue from the new retail and commercial space, are due April 22.


Governor Cuomo unveils plans for Penn Station’s massive revamp

[QUOTE]Brace yourselves, New Yorkers: a new Penn Station is officially coming—for real this time. Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans for the forthcoming Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex, along with announcing the developers and builders who will collaborate on the project. The plans call for a brand new, 255,000-square-foot train hall, which will accommodate both Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, that’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020. (Yes, you read that date right.)

…Unsurprisingly, the partnership is made up of some of the real estate business’s biggest names: Related Companies, Vornado Realty, and Skanska. Those three companies will work together, using the designs proposed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, to bring the revamped Penn Station to life.

Three Major Takeaways:

1. The James A. Farley Post Office building has been “reimagined from the original plan,” which had called for the building to hold only Amtrak. Now, it will measure 250,000 square feet (larger than Grand Central Terminal), and will be known as the Moynihan Train Hall. It will hold Amtrak and the LIRR, along with 700,000 square feet of retail and office space. The design is similar to the renderings, created by SOM, that were revealed in January, with a dramatic glass skylight (meant to reference McKim, Mead & White’s old Penn Station) arching over the concourse.

2. The LIRR concourses that currently sit within Penn Station will be redeveloped, and headed up by the MTA. This will include “nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue.” An RFP will be issued for this work today, and a contractor may be chosen before the end of the year.

3. Both subway stations that service Penn Station—the A/C/E at Eighth Avenue and the 1/2/3 at Seventh Avenue—will be completely redone in keeping with the MTA’s plans, announced earlier this year, to upgrade 31 stations throughout the entire system.[/QUOTE]

LIRR Concourse Renderings:


Really like the renders!
I just hope it turns out great!
Looks like the WTC Transportation Hub has given a motivation for this huge project. ^^


Looks amazing! Just to confirm, this will be in the general post office building right? And will the street level entrance be through there?

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Good news! Nice!

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I have a lot of questions.

Will LIRR and Amtrak each have ticketing and waiting areas in both buildings, or will the “main” areas be in Moynihan, leaving the MSG basement to NJT?

If Amtrak is moving (fully), what will happen to the existing Amtrak area?

Will there be any improvements to the other areas, such as platforms and the Hilton Passageway?

Most critically, WTH happened to the much grander plan announced in January? Is the stuff below scrapped now?


Ready by 2020?! LOL! There is absolutely no way they are getting this done in less than 5 years. More like 2040. I can’t wait to see what comes of this however. Penn is a disgusting mess.

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It could happen. Cuomo is a corrupt bastard, but when he puts his cronies to a task, they make it happen. Without pressure from him, I’m pretty sure the Second Ave Subway would already be delayed to late 2017, and we wouldn’t be testing a new countdown clock system on the Broadway line.

Most of what’s being proposed here is not tricky work. It’s not building something new and it’s not re-arranging everything like they’re doing at LaGuardia. Most of it is not even structural. It’s a renovation of existing spaces. There’s no practical reason it can’t happen by 2020.


I don’t think everyone realizes that this is a dramatically scaled-down version of the plan put forward in January.

Also, the work to connect the Farley building to the platforms was already underway as a separate project and is being finished up right now. This new part is basically just about the lobby space.


I wonder what the plan is for the current Penn though. It seems that all of the tracks lie under MSG between 7th and 8th, so who is going to walk all the way over to 8th (unless one works in the HY or MW to the west) in order to walk back east under tunnels to get to their track under MSG.

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