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An image he took in 1957 of a girl stepping in circles of sunlight inspired him to return the following year. Stettner’s photographs have been brought together for the first time in the book Penn Station, New York, with an introduction by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. Iran's ban on performing the Hajj is the latest in a myriad of political and safety restrictions.
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Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Newsletter and get our latest, delivered straight to your inbox. New York's Penn Station is the busiest train station it the entire country, handling more than 600,000 passengers every day, but the subterranean station leaves much to be desired. In 2001, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill was picked to design Moynihan Station, which is the brainchild of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who championed the project when he was still alive.
SOM will maintain the facade of the Farley Post Office, which sits behind Penn Station on Eighth Avenue between 33rd and 31st Streets.
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John Thomas North (pictured), originally a Yorkshire mechanic, became a friend of the future King George V and was worth $10 million in 1889? King George V of the United Kingdom was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George"? 19 crewmen of the Russian oceanliner SS Czar received the Silver Sea Gallantry Medal from King George V of the United Kingdom for rescuing 102 survivors from a burning ship in October 1913? The station, a glorious nine-acre Beaux-Arts masterpiece, was infinitely photogenic; but it was the commuters that drew Stettner’s eye. Again, his interests went beyond the 150-foot arched ceilings and classical Greek Doric columns of the vast waiting room. It's cramped, claustrophobic, and completely devoid of natural light, but all that is changing. Just 50 years ago, it was a magnificent train station that rivaled the beauty of Grand Central. A variety of reasons lead to the project design briefly changing hands, but in 2007, SOM was again officially awarded the project (you can find a detailed timeline of Moynihan Station’s planning history here), and their plans have more or less stayed the same. The interior will be restored to house new train and intermodal halls, and a sweeping glass ceiling will create a light-filled central hall.

His photographs are primarily intimate portraits of the people traveling through that beautiful space, made all the more poignant by its impending demise. After nearly two decades of delays, construction on the long awaited Moynihan Station finally began last fall thanks to $83.3 million in stimulus funds. But then along came the Robert Moses era, and the station was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden. Phase One, which began in October, consists of building major transportation infrastructure the station will need. The project, designed by SOM, entails redeveloping the Farley Post Office building into a train station that will be connected to the current Penn Station.
This includes extending the west end concourse below the post office building to allow for access to more tracks, improving ventilation, improving and updating signal work, upgrading the connector between the post office and the current Penn Station, and creating two new entry points on either side of the post office’s facade. From the look of SOM's renderings, the open, light filled space will be anything but cramped and claustrophobic.

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