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admin 02.09.2013

Four architectural firms, invited by the Metropolitan Art Society (MAS), have laid out proposals as to how they would transform New York's darkest and dingiest hub, Penn Station, into a space worthy of its site in the heart of the city. New Yorkers have been up in arms about Penn Station ever since its Beaux-Arts predecessor, designed by McKim, Mead & White, was demolished in 1963. As we reported last month, Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) 50-year permit expires this year, and it will be either renewed without limit, or extended 10-15 years by the New York City Council in the coming months. The New York Times writes that Diller, Scofidio & Renfro will move Madison Square Garden across Eighth Avenue next to the James A. A relocation of Madison Square Garden to a 16-acre site on the west side waterfront provides an enhanced venue with a singular new identity and expanded tourist, hospitality, and entertainment opportunities.
From SHoP: SHoP's plan imagines an expanded main hall of Penn Station as a bright, airy and easily navigable space that defines a center of a new destination district, Gotham Gateway.
According to The New York Times, SHoP ARCHITECTS will expand the existing site with a lightweight concrete structure that is meant to evoke the old Penn Station and make the station a social meeting spot. From SOM: “Nearly 640,000 passengers use Penn Station every day, and yet it does not act as a dignified gateway to one of the world’s greatest cities,” states Roger Duffy, FAIA, Design Partner behind SOM’s vision.
The plan calls for the expansion of Penn Station’s footprint by two additional blocks to accommodate high-speed rail lines for the Northeast Corridor, expanded commuter rail service for the entire tri-state area, and direct rail connections to JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports.
A central, transparent Ticketing Hall is placed at the center of the site, with dedicated vehicular drop-off and radial, pedestrian connections to the city surrounding it.
Penn Station, Re-Imagined originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 29 May 2013.
After the exhibit, we did our own exploring until a postal worker kindly took us seemingly lost souls back to the main hall, exiting at the quirky Museum of Postal History. It looks like some other readers took the cue and got even deeper into the post office than we did, infiltrating the very areas that inspired Krakowaik–the spaces for workers that were under observation by the police lookout gallery. Below are the more notable demolitions that went on during NYC's frenzied attempts at trying to "modernize" the city in the 1960s. Probably one of the most notorious destructions of a monumental structure since artillery damaged the Parthenon, the demolition of Pennsylvania Station still creates outrage to this day.
After the destruction of Penn Station, no other demolition project caused as much of a hue and cry than the Brokow Mansions. The mansions were bought by the Institute of Radio Engineers between 1946 and 1961 for office use. Part of "Newspaper Row", the Tribune Building was one of three distinguished newspaper headquarters that found a place along Park Row facing City Hall (the other two were the New York Times and New York World). As valuable a service Radio Row gave New Yorkers, the entire neighborhood was chosen to be cleared away for The World Trade Center. Located on Fifth Avenue and West 39th Street, the old Metropolitan Opera House was a place rich in cultural history. Built in 1904, the Hotel Astor was a successor to the old Waldorf=Astoria that once stood at 34th Street and 7th Avenue. The tower of the Singer Building was as iconic a part of the NYC skyline as the Twin Towers.
The City Investing Building was the Singer Building's immediate neighbor, and this too was demolished when the tower was razed in 1968. Imagine anymore the vision for having a building whose primary purpose would be to create a life experience for those passing through, and incidentally to also serve as a train station! All the whining in the world about how unsightly, grimy, or whatever Penn Station was in its declining years (all of which could have been dealt with by apportioning for its upkeep a fraction of the money that went into real-estate thugs' pockets in the transactions that led to its demise) can't obscure the fact that a soaring, beautiful monument to the aspirations of man was replaced with a squalid, stunted, cheap and uncomfortable monument to greed and hubris. The Sistine Chapel is reputed to be just awfully expensive to keep clean; why not spray acousti-tile over it and be done with the burden?
When you stepped out of your train onto that platform, the astonishing and unexpected vastness of the space around you was a perfect metaphor for the possibilities of your future in America's greatest city.
A note to all the "Monday Morning Preservationists" -- would you prefer to drive to West New Jersey to see the Knicks? Ramps were not needed since anyone in need could use elevators from the concourse towards the left that would take them down to track level. Though 99% of the architecture is lost, those same staircases and elevators are still in use today.
Penn Station's success as a functioning train station is confirmed by the fact that nearly all the below grade facilities - tracks, platforms, and even some stairways - are still in use today. Though the station appears to have not yet opened for use there is a DD1 transfer locomotive a few platforms in the background. As many probably know, Penn Station was owned by the spiraling-towards-bankruptcy Pennsylvania Railroad.
I looked into Wiki to see when it was built and, as I thought, it was brand new in 1910 when the picture was taken. Based on the exterior photos I have seen, the current Pennsylvania Station doesn't hold a candle to this one. In 1963, one of New York City's finest buildings was demolished to make way for a new $116M sports arena and entertainment complex. Pennsylvania Station, the monumental 1910 Beaux-Arts masterpiece of architects McKim, Mead and White, was leveled, and replaced with the fourth incarnation of Madison Square Garden. In the 1950s the rise of the automobile and the frenzy of highway building had severely threatened the viability of passenger railways. The architects must have considered themselves generous to people in wheelchairs by putting those intermittent landings every 12 or 13 stairs. This photograph shows the station when final construction and clean up was almost complete. Even with their minds on all that beautiful iron, stone and glass and McKim, Mead & White still had the foresight to build large ports beside the tracks to quickly and easily sweep the trash that riders might toss. Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie viewed the Gateway announcement as a vindication of his decision to cancel ARC, but as Steinemann explains in the post below, Christie is off base.
If anything, the chart is a testament to just how beneficial the ARC Tunnel promised to be, noting, for example, that ARC promised to connect commuters to the subway lines at Herald Square. In addition, Gateway’s new Penn Station South adds four new platforms serving seven tracks underground between 30th and 31st streets from 7th Ave.
A critical benefit of Gateway, that is not being widely touted, is the system redundancy that the connectivity to Penn Station provides. The price comparisons between Gateway and ARC, reported at $13.5 billion and $10 billion respectively, are also misleading. The 63rd street tunnel was prefabricated and lowered into a trench on the bottom of the east river, while the proposed Hudson tunnels will be constructed with tunnel boring machines due to the longer distance and deeper channel. Build the tracks to Penn, lose the Penn South, and have NJ Transit joint operate a few LIRR lines, such as Woodmere or Port Jefferson. That said, SF actually needs some sort of parallel line or secondary platform, when theres delays during rush hour, Embarcadero can reach dangerous levels of crowding on the platform very quickly.

Forgive as I’m not a BART expert, but isn’t this an apples and oranges type comparison? BART has service patterns typical of an S-Bahn, track infrastructure typical of a subway, and station surroundings typical of American-style commuter rail. You might be able to picture it if you think of a setup where all of the Bronx IRT lines ran deep into Westchester County, and ran only on the Lexington Ave Local in Manhattan. It is also somewhat similar to how Metro North RR and current LIRR run, in stretches during rush hr (I.E. While the Park Ave tunnel was built with local stations at 59th, 72nd, 86th and 110th, the stations at 59th and 72nd were never used in regular service.
Building a 1-seat ride would once again turn the Transfer into a boondoggle that costs NJ Transit more than it could bring in to support the operating costs and debt repayment that is an ongoing drain to the agency.
North Jersey riders aren’t getting a one-seat ride, but that means that Secaucus remains viable and not the boondoggle that it has been since the outset. Um, as an Amtrak intercity rider I’d like a decent station, rather than a hole in the ground. As a frequent user of Amtrak myself, I would like a railroad that runs on time and a station that’s convenient to get into and out of. Now couple the news of this project proposal with the timing of Obama’s push for $52 billion in new HSR funding over 5 years. A very large fraction of the money would go to California HSR, whose current problem is funding and not NIMBYism. That could leave one train per hour on each of the New Haven and Hudson lines, if Lautenberg’s site means only six trains per hour, three each way (or two each if it is six trains per hour each way). Honestly, with track connections to the LIRR tracks, and Metro-North Access, this will hugely benefit New York as well.
Alt G is still the right idea, but this project actually is Alt G compatible, unlike NJT’s. One person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting near Penn Station, the key intercity railway hub in New York City, early on Monday, the police said. All three victims were males and no information was available on the shooter or shooters or their whereabouts, New York police officer Christopher Pisano said.
The two who were injured were in serious condition and taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York fire department spokesman Michael Parrella said. Penn Station in Manhattan is a major railway center where Amtrak and most commuter train lines converge.
Its replacement is a dark, cramped station that lacks both the operational and security features it needs to sustain the hundreds of thousands of travelers who use it daily.
The New Penn Station, including an eight-track high-speed rail expansion to the south, accommodates increased capacity and integrates community and traveler amenities, including a new three-acre public park, retail complex, and two-acre roof garden. In addition to striking public architecture, the project proposessignificant security and rail capacity improvements that address major needs at the existingstation.
This last connection would allow a passenger to go straight from the curb of 7th Avenue, through security at Penn Station, onto a train, and directly to the airport gate. With all of these networks intersecting at Penn Station, its central hall would become the iconic gateway for nearly every visitor around the world. Tucked behind the passport section, 99% of people miss this little museum–and not surprisingly, since the easiest way to discover it is through trespassing other areas! Instagram user rysgam submitted all the below photographs to the Untapped Cities photo pool by hashtagging #untappedcities on his Instagram. Don’t forget to hashtag your photos with #untappedcities and have your photos featured in the Photo Pool! When it was built, the huge project was a fitting monument for what was then a huge, bustling railroad system that everyone thought would last forever. It did so poorly, in fact, that the cash-strapped Pennsylvania Railroad had barely any money to maintain the gigantic complex, and left it to decay into a sooty, drafty, leaky, decrepit mess. Shockingly, this elegant-looking structure, which easily could've been converted for academic use, was torn down to make way for Pace University.
The site needed a huge swath of land to be built on, which necessitated the loss of several acres of land. When news of this emerged, business owners fought valiantly against the planned demolition.
Located on Broadway and West 44th Street, the magnificent Second Empire structure became an integral part of Times Square's visual landscape. As I suppose the current incarnation is as well, in its own way, in this Age of the Bankster. The universal regret over the loss of the superb public spaces above grade is reflected in the most recent proposal for the site, Moynihan Station, which aims to recreate these spaces right across the street inside the the shell of the old Post Office Building, another design from the office of McKim, Mead and White. These locomotives used outside third rail and had a small pantograph to collect power from an overhead catenary. Penn Station may have been pleasant to look at in 1910, but by 1960 it was a decrepit eyesore that was a complete bust as a functioning train station. The Pennsy couldn't afford to keep this giant station operating when the air rights over the tracks were so lucrative (the space over the tracks now Madison Square Garden). Many historic structures have been saved due to this building loss, and subsequent awareness of the value of significant buildings.
The debris and construction detritus here and there, the temporary shack thing on the left, and more tellingly, the lack of track number signage on the arches over each stairway tell me this photo was taken before September 8, 1910, when Penn Station came online, no pun intended. The biggest difference between the two projects, however, are the compromises that Gateway requires of NJ Transit. Whereas ARC mentioned it as a possible future project, new access for Metro North at Penn Station is a full component of Gateway. The Gateway Tunnel also includes the Portal Bridge Replacement project, which ARC critics demanded should have been considered part of ARC’s total cost. The new option that would allow the two new tubes at least some sort of East River connection via the southernmost LIRR tunnels means the new tubes can be beneficial as part of an overall high-speed rail corridor from Washington to Boston.
When I look at the double track Embarcadero BART in San Francisco, compared to the 20 tracks of NYP, its amazing how much they get done during rush hour, and how NYP is such a glutton for platforms due to their old-timey railroad orientation.
Penn doesnt have this problem because passengers typically arent waiting on the platform itself. So on the one hand it’s primarily suburban, with multiple lines converging to create a single high-frequency urban line, just like the Munich S-Bahn.
Only he explains it with analogies that are a lot more comprehensible to New York railfans.
Off-peak trains are limited on the North Jersey train lines, and parking is the single biggest impediment to greater commuter train usage. Before then, Secaucus was a billion dollar boondoggle because the transfer traffic wasn’t there.

NJ Transit, if it built the loop connector, would be cannibalizing ridership from Secaucus, and riders from North Jersey would still be faced with increased commute times (5-7 minutes each way) to Hoboken as has been the case since the track realignment and opening of Secaucus (most folks still ride the train to Hoboken for transfers to Lower Manhattan and Midtown below 34th Street). Fortunately, it’s a stub-end that allows trains from either the new or the old tunnel to access both the new and the old tracks. For most of the way, the people along the line support construction because they want the jobs and the access to LA and the Bay Area. Its my understanding that many foreign systems (RER, S-Bahn) operate more in this fashion as well. Assuming that when the Empire Corridor gets upgraded and electrified, it would need two frequencies per hour each way. Most riders could be intercity passengers heading to Penn Station to connect to Next Gen Acelas going to Boston or DC. Now New York and New Jersey can benefit equally; hopefully Christie will use that thick head of his and actually work with others to get this done! Farley Post Office behind Penn Station is the Museum of Postal History, which contains a fun vintage collection of mail paraphernalia from the United States and other countries. Farley Post Office, including the former police lookout corridors and the large industrial-like spaces now used for fashion shows and events. As Michael Kimmelman put it in his inaugural piece as architecture editor for The New York Times, "To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. The team proposes new development, as well as new parks and amenities, aroundthe station to help defray the required public investment, including an extension of the HighLine that connects the new station to a glorious and financeable new Madison SquareGarden.
In addition to creating one of the largest multi-modal stations in the world, SOM also proposes to build a public park four times the size of Bryant Park, a commercial development the size of Rockefeller Center, a cultural center larger than Lincoln Center, and a residential neighborhood the size of Tudor City.
As urban explorers know well, even when you’re shown off-limits places, you know there are even more.
By the time the company sold off the building, it was too late for the public to save it, and down it went to make way for the fourth version of Madison Square Garden.
It barely stood for more than a few decades when it was razed in 1964 to make way for the General Motors building.
The new owners were all too eager to dispose of them, even going so far as to thwart public opposition by sneakily starting demolition on a weekend. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission. If even half of the Monday-morning preservationists who bemoan its fate had been willing to put some money where their mouths were, it might still be around.
In the late 1950s the four blocks of land the station covered in Manhattan had become too valuable not to sell. He’s going to track the progress of the Gateway Tunnel there, and he is allowing me to post some of his analysis here as well. For passengers on trains from Bergen, Passaic, Rockland and Orange Counties on the Main-Bergen and Pascack Valley lines, Gateway will not provide the long-promised, one-seat ride to Manhattan (at least not at first).
In fact, a presentation on Lautenberg’s site promises capacity for six hourly trains on Metro North’s New Haven and Hudson Lines. Finally, Amtrak’s proposal also suggests extending the 7 train not westward but eastward from its future terminus at 34th St. If, for some reason, a train dies in one tunnel, as happens frequently now, the Gateway tunnels will provide a back-up. Like ARC and the Portal Bridge projects, Gateway will double the right-of-way from Newark Penn Station to New York Penn Station from two to four tracks. The more federal funding that is sought, the more it helps to have House and Senate members in states besides New York and New Jersey who can see a benefit from a Hudson River tunnel project.
But unlike an S-Bahn, it’s entirely greenfield, and incompatible with mainline rail, raising the costs of everything. Where is NJ Transit going to get the funds to operate 12 additional trains into Penn Station, let alone the 25 claimed under ARC (and Amtrak gets an additional 8-12 trains – so the total capacity is actually close to the same number as under ARC, but with the added benefits to HSR on the NEC). It’s now utilized for additional traffic from the parking lot and those who would use the station to attend events at the Meadowlands via the spur line that opened last year. For Penn Station, there was access to Sunnyside Yards, while there was no such access for ARC, which meant that the trains had to go somewhere (back into New Jersey?) that would reduce the actual capacity. Unfortunately, it’s still unnecessary infrastructure and still costs about five times what most Continental European cities would be spending on the same project. The billion(s of?) $ being wasted on Mohnihan, which will in no way improve mobility,* could go to straightening tracks, improving signals, investing in constant tension catenary, electrifying commuter rail, or any number of worthy local transit projects.
The NIMBYs are cocooned in the Bay Area demagoguing about how grade-separating the local commuter line and running high-speed trains on it at low speed will be the end of the world. And don’t miss one of our favorite fun facts: mail in NYC used to be carried by pneumatic tubes underground!
The design will fully exhaust its potential air rights but preserve the full four block ground-plane exclusively for Public use. The post office, across from Penn Station and the future home of Moynihan Station, supported 16,000 workers at its peak, but less than 200 today.
Now bland, non-descript building stands in the place of what used to be the site of some of the most beautiful residences in New York City. The building's owners, the Metropolitan Opera Association, lobbied to destroy the building when it was making plans for Lincoln Center.
Track level, main and exit concourses, stair entrance." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. When you entered from the street and started down its super scale main stairs, it was like entering another world, one that promised travel to distant and exotic destinations. The details of the Gateway operating arrangement are not clear, but improvements over the current arrangement are essential. Due to the complicated nature of the train platforms underneath Moynihan station, however, it seems impossible for NJ Transit and Amtrak to utilize three of the four tunnels for peak-directional flow as the LIRR currently permits in its four tunnels under the East River. Any changes to the connection between the Northeast Corridor and NJT’s Morris & Essex and Montclair Lines (located just west of the Portal Bridge) remain unclear at this time. And the dominance of parking lot stations in the suburbs, with very little development, is inexcusable. These other systems are commuter rail that put multiple stations within the CBD as well as through-running. You can imagine just how many abandoned spaces there are inside, a concept explored by the artist Katarzyna Krakowaik in the current installation.
Finally, as I noted yesterday, Gateway increases NJ Transit’s peak train capacity by only 13 additional trains, as opposed to ARC’s 24 additional trains.

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