Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Learn more about Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
|Address|| Between Ninth Ave & Seventh Ave, 31st Street & 34th Street,|
New York, NY 10001
|Routes||Acela Express, Adirondack, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Keystone Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Pennsylvanian, Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter|
|Other service||Long Island Rail Road, New York City Subway, Port Authority Trans-Hudson & some New Jersey Transit lines|
Pennsylvania Station is New York City's busiest railway station, sharing the Pennsylvania Station name with several stations in other cities. Commonly known as Penn Station. It is 100% underground; the main level of the station is 2 floors below street level, the lower level is -3, and the track level is -4 below street. It occupies 5 full city blocks (31st to 33rd street between Ninth and Eighth Avenues and 31st to 34th between Eighth and Seventh Avenues). There is only one level (platform level) between Ninth and Eight Avenues below the main post office. The post office itself has been proposed to be converted into part of station for aesthetics and to increase capacity, however since very few passengers come to the station from west of Eighth Ave where the post office is (which is outside New York's business center), the true capacity increase by expanding westward will be nominal, which is why NJ Transit is now proposing expanding the station with an even lower level (5 stories below ground) containing 8 new tracks below 34th street between Seventh and Sixth Avenues as part of the new Hudson River tunnel. With the exception of the post office, everything above the station is called "Penn Plaza." Madison Square Garden is located atop a large portion of the station. The stations's name comes from its original owner, the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Penn Station is located at the center of the Northeast Corridor, an electrified passenger railroad line extending from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. The station is served by a number of passenger rail services including Amtrak (the station's owner), Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the New York City Subway, which does not share tracks at Penn Station, but has two stations at the eastern and western ends, with direct entrances in and out the concourse on the lower-level. Aside from the subways, the other 3 services share only 11 platforms (21 tracks). Each rail service operator has its own section of the station, although most tracks can be accessed multiple sections. PATH has a station at 33rd Street one long-block east on Sixth Avenue.
While the station is busier than its Manhattan rival Grand Central Station, that station is even larger, but Penn Station is significantly over capacity. This has led to many discussions on diverting traffic away from Penn Station into Grand Central to not only relieve traffic at Penn Station, but also provide riders with a second station destination in Manhattan, as currently no lines serve both stations, and connecting between the two by subway requires an additional connection at Times Square.
In 2004, Penn Station was the busiest Amtrak station in the United States by annual boardings with 4,367,553, more than double those of its nearest competitor, in Philadelphia, PA<ref>TABLE Top 50 Amtrak Stations by Number of Boardings: Fiscal Year 2005, Amtrak, accessed November 22, 2006</ref>. Amtrak's busiest route is between New York Penn Station and Philadelphia, which are only a one-hour ride apart on its express trains. However, the price is steep: $120-$202 (round-trip) on regional service and $196-$360 (round-trip) on express; monthly commuter passes valid only on certain non-express trains are sold at a substantial discount but still are over $1,000 per month and used by a large number of people who commute to Penn Station from Philadelphia, PA daily.
Penn Station is named for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), its builder and original tenant. There could have been no Penn Station in New York City until the Pennsylvania Railroad's rails reached Manhattan. The 19th century PRR terminated across the Hudson River at Jersey City's Exchange Place terminal in New Jersey, where passengers bound for Manhattan boarded ferries for the final stretch of their journey. The rival New York Central Railroad's rails ran down Manhattan from the north, ending in its Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
The Pennsylvania Railroad, unsatisfied with this state of affairs, considered bridging the Hudson River (too expensive) or tunneling under it (too long to work with steam locomotives and too difficult to ventilate). The development of the electric locomotive and electrified railroad systems by the early 20th century provided a practicable solution to the latter problem.
On December 12, 1901, PRR president Alexander Cassatt announced the railroad's plan to enter New York City, tunneling under the Hudson and building a grand station on the West Side of Manhattan, south of 34th Street. The PRR had been secretly buying up the necessary land in Manhattan and New Jersey for some time.
Two single-track tunnels were bored from the New Jersey side, and in addition four single-track tunnels were bored under the East River from Queens to Manhattan, linking the Long Island Rail Road, now under PRR control, to the new station (see East River Tunnels). Sunnyside Yard in Queens would be the place where trains were maintained and assembled.
The tunnel technology was so new and innovative that the PRR shipped an actual 23-foot diameter section of the new East River Tunnel to the Jamestown Exposition at Sewell's Point on Hampton Roads, near Norfolk, Virginia in 1907 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Settlement. The same tube, with an inscription that it had been displayed at the Exposition, was later installed under water, and was still in use in 2004.
The current facility is the substantially remodelled underground remnant of a much grander structure built between 1905 and 1910. Designed by Charles McKim of the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the original Pennsylvania Station of legend was an outstanding masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style and one of the architectural jewels of New York City. The above-ground portion of the original structure was demolished in the mid 1960s to make room for the current Pennsylvania Plaza/Madison Square Garden complex.
The original structure was a pink-granite exercise in a gigantic and sober colonnaded Doric order embodying the sophisticated integration of multiple functions and circulation of people and goods that is an under-appreciated achievement of the outwardly glamorous and occasionally pompous Beaux-Arts movement. McKim, Mead and White's Pennsylvania Station combined frank glass-and-steel train sheds and a magnificently-proportioned concourse with a breath-taking monumental entrance to New York City, immortalized in films (see link below). From the street, twin carriageways, modelled after Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, led to the two railroads that the building served, the Pennsylvania and the Long Island Rail Road. The main waiting room, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla, approximated the scale of St. Peter's nave in Rome, expressed here in a steel framework clad in travertine.
The demolition of the original structure — although considered by some to be justified as progressive in the trade at the time, and largely ignored by non-professional Americans -- nevertheless left a deep and lasting wound in the architectural consciousness of the city. A famous photograph of a smashed caryatid in the landfill of the Meadowlands struck a guilty chord. Pennsylvania Station's demolition is considered to have been the catalyst for the enactment of the city's first architectural preservation statutes. The sculpture on the building, including the angel in the landfill, was created by Adolph Alexander Weinman. One of the sculpted clock surrounds, whose figures were modeled using model Audrey Munson, still survives as the Eagle Scout Memorial Fountain in Kansas City, Missouri, there is also a caryatid at the sculpture garden at the Brooklyn Museum, and all of the Penn Station eagles are still in existence.
Ironically, Charles McKim may have doomed his own structure by not allowing Alexander Cassatt to include multi-story office buildings as part of the Penn Station complex. By the 1960s, the air rights of Penn Station were too valuable to be left idle and the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was losing money at the time, would have had one less incentive to tear down the beautiful building. McKim opposed high rises because he considered them anti-urban.
Ottawa's Union Station, built a year after Penn Station (in 1912) is another replica of the Baths of Caracalla. Therefore, this train station's departures hall now provides a good idea of what the interior of Penn Station would have looked like (at half the scale). Chicago's Union Station is similar as well.
After a renovation covered some of the grand columns with plastic and blocked off the spacious central hallway with a new ticket office, Lewis Mumford wrote critically in The New Yorker in 1958 that "nothing further that could be done to the station could damage it". History was to prove him wrong. Under the presidency of Pennsylvania Railroad's Stuart T. Saunders (who later headed ill-fated Penn Central Transportation), the above-ground components of this structure (the platforms are below street level) were demolished in 1964, without disrupting the essential day-to-day operations, to make way for present-day Madison Square Garden, along with two office towers.
A point made in the defense of the demolition of the old Penn Station at the time of its demolition was that the cost of maintaining the old structure had become prohibitively expensive and that the citizens of New York City were unwilling to shoulder the costs of maintaining and cleaning their beloved station. The question of whether it made sense to preserve a building, intended to be a cost-effective and functional piece of the city's infrastructure, simply as a "monument" to the past was raised in defense of the plans to demolish it. As a New York Times editorial critical of the demolition noted at the time, a "civilization gets what it wants, is willing to pay for, and ultimately deserves", and an easy-to-maintain "modern" slab was precisely what the "city that never sleeps" was after.<ref>Farewell to Penn Station, New York Times, Oct. 30, 1963 (The editorial goes on to say that "we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed").</ref> Ironically, modern architects rushed to save the ornate building that was seemingly contradictory to their own styles, calling the station a treasure, and chanting "Don't Amputate - Renovate" at rallies.<ref>A 1960's Protest That Tried to Save a Piece of the Past, New York Times, May 20, 2001 (scroll to the last article on the page).</ref>
Four eagles salvaged from the station currently reside on the Market Street Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania across from that city's 30th Street Station. Another is located at the Long Island Rail Road station in Hicksville, New York.
The furor over the demolition of such a well-known landmark, and its replacement by what was widely deplored as a mediocre slab of real estate, are often cited as catalysts for the architectural preservation movement in the United States, and for laws restricting such demolition. Within the decade, Grand Central Terminal was protected under the city's new landmarks preservation act — a protection which was upheld by the courts in 1978, after a challenge by Grand Central's owner, Penn Central.
The outcry over the loss of Penn Station prompted activists to question the "development scheme" mentality that was also cultivated by New York's "master builder", Robert Moses (although the cash-strapped railroad, not Moses, was actually responsible for the demolition). Moses' plans for a Lower Manhattan Expressway were scrapped due to public protests and a rejection of the plan by the city government.
In the longer run, the sense that something irreplaceable had been lost contributed to the erosion of confidence in Modernism itself and its sweeping forms of urban renewal, and thus strengthened interest in historic preservation. Comparing the new and the old Penn Station, architectural historian Vincent Scully once wrote, "One entered the city like a god, one scuttles in now like a rat." This feeling, shared by many New Yorkers, has led to movements for a new Penn Station that could somehow atone for the loss of an architectural treasure.<ref>"That it was torn down in 1963, mindlessly, has been with the city for a long while, how could we do that? We now have an opportunity to recreate the building."Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Moynihan to Help Recreate NYC Pennsylvania Station, Reuters, Aug. 27, 2002.</ref>
The current Pennsylvania Station is often criticized for its charmlessness, especially when compared to the much larger yet less used Grand Central Terminal. That image comes even with owner Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's renovation work in the 1990s to improve the look of the waiting/concession areas, sharpen the station information systems (audio and visual) and remove much of the grime. (The 34th Street Long Island Rail Road entrance features an old four-sided clock from the original depot, and the walkway from its escalator has a mural with elements alluding to the old Penn Station's architecture.)
But hope for a grander railroad terminal lies just one block west. Across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station sits New York's General Post Office, the James Farley Post Office. Under pressure from the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, plans were publicized in 1999 to move entrances and concourses of Penn Station under this building, which fills an entire city block. The newly completed structure will be named Moynihan Station in the Senator's honor<ref>Team Chosen For Project To Develop Transit Hub, The New York Times, July 18, 2005</ref>.
Initial design proposals were laid out by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. In a rather uncomfortable series of events reminiscent of the continuous redesign of the Freedom Tower (also by Childs), the project schedule had been stretched further and further into the future. In July 2005, it was announced that Childs' plan had been scrapped, and a new one was unveiled. This second plan was similar, but much more modest than the original and is the result of a collaboration between the architectural firms of James Carpenter and Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK). Later in 2005, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill reacquired the project and released a third design, which is a compromise. This design, as of June 2006, resembles the interior of BCE Place and does not require the demolition of part of the facade of the Farley Building.
Amtrak was to be the major tenant of the building, leaving the old station for use by the local commuter passengers. Signs of construction appeared in November 2005, with plywood barriers installed on the sidewalks and orange nets covering main facade on 8th Avenue<ref>The New Penn Station: When Will It Arrive?, accessed June 11, 2006</ref>.
Amtrak, however, has pulled out, and New Jersey Transit is to become the Moynihan Station's anchor tenant. NJ Transit is apparently in the process of negotiating a 99-year lease on the Farley Post Office <ref>Moynihan Station Development Corporation and NJ Transit Agree to Partner in Moynihan Station, press release dated November 21, 2005</ref><ref>New Jersey Transit To Be Anchor Rail Tenant of Proposed Station, New York Sun, November 22, 2005</ref>. In the meantime, a movement of Madison Square Garden to the west flank of the Farley Building is being contemplated by Cablevision, owner of the Garden, and such a movement could lead to Vornado Realty Trust building an office complex on the current Garden site <ref>High Expectations for Madison Square Garden's Rumored $750M Move, Commercial Property News, February 15, 2006</ref>.
News reports are vague as to the exact whereabouts of the proposed new Madison Square Garden and what is to be done to the Farley building, other than preserving the facade (work is already underway on the facade preservation; scaffolding is up and the Empire State Development Corporation is looking for advertisers for that scaffolding<ref>Posting 2-block ad, New York Daily News, January 18, 2006</ref>. The project is currently in limbo, with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refusing to give the go ahead for existing plans, citing the need for greater integration with the larger Midtown renovation plan proposed by developers and Cablevision.<ref>Sheldon Silver May Axe Moynihan Station Project, NY1, October 11, 2006</ref><ref>Fate of Moynihan Rail Station Will Be Handed Over to Silver, New York Sun, October 11, 2006</ref>
Silver and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer seem to favor the Madison Square Garden owners' proposal, which suggests a westward move of Madison Square Garden, which would provide "daylight" to Penn Station, and leave the current Penn Station site open to development.
Baroque music is played in the upper level (western section for Amtrak trains) concourse of the station.
A passageway originally connected Penn Station to the subway station at Herald Square, although there was no free transfer between subway lines. However, the passage was closed in the 1990's. Passengers must now walk at street level to go between the two stations.
One wall of the NJT concourse features a timeline of significant railroad related milestones in New Jersey, while a display case also in the concourse features several moving caricatures of New Jersey landmarks such as the Lower Trenton Bridge.
- Acela Express to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington
- Adirondack to Montreal
- Cardinal to Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, and Chicago
- Carolinian to Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte
- Crescent to Philadelphia, Washington, Greensboro, Atlanta, and New Orleans
- Empire Service to Yonkers, Croton-Harmon, Poughkeepsie, Hudson, Albany, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls
- Ethan Allen Express to Albany and Rutland
- Keystone Service to Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Harrisburg
- Lake Shore Limited to Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, and Chicago
- Maple Leaf to Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Toronto
- Pennsylvanian to Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh
- Regional to Boston, Providence, New Haven, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Newport News
- Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star to Philadelphia, Washington, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Miami
- Vermonter to New Haven, Springfield, and St. Albans
|Preceding station||Amtrak Lines||Following station|
|Newark||Acela Express (Boston-Washington D.C.)||Stamford|
|Yonkers||Adirondack (Montreal-New York)||Terminus|
|Newark||Cardinal (Chicago-New York)|
|Newark||Carolinian (New York-Charlotte)|
|Newark||Crescent (New York-New Orleans)|
|Yonkers||Empire Service (New York-Niagara Falls)|
|Yonkers|| Ethan Allen Express (Rutland-New York)|
*only trains 291 & 296*
|Croton-Harmon||Ethan Allen Express (Rutland-New York)|
|Newark||Keystone Service (New York-Harrisburg)|
|Croton-Harmon||Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-New York)|
|Yonkers||Maple Leaf (New York-Toronto)|
|Newark||Metroliner (New York-Washington D.C.)|
|Newark||Pennsylvanian (New York-Pittsburgh)|
|Newark||Regional (Boston-Newport News)||New Rochelle|
|Newark||Palmetto (New York-Tampa/Miami)||Terminus|
|Newark||Silver Meteor (New York-Tampa/Miami)|
|Newark||Silver Star (New York-Tampa/Miami)|
|Newark||Vermonter (St. Albans-Washington D.C.)||Stamford|
|Next station west||Long Island Rail Road||Next station east|
|Terminus||City Terminal Zone|| To: Long Island |
- New York City Subway
- From Penn Station:
- From Herald Square, one block east at Sixth Avenue:
 New Jersey Transit
- Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair State University
- Morris and Essex Lines to New Providence, Morristown, Dover and Gladstone
- Northeast Corridor Line to Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton Junction, and Trenton (connects to SEPTA trains bound for Philadelphia)
- North Jersey Coast Line to Newark, Perth Amboy, and Long Branch
|Next station||NJ Transit Lines||Next station|
|Northeast Corridor Line||Terminus|
toward Long Branch
|North Jersey Coast Line||Terminus|
toward Montclair State University
Note: Trains are either turned around for service back to New Jersey, or head for Sunnyside Yard for maintenance.
Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) service to Hoboken and Jersey City, New Jersey does not technically serve Penn Station, but is located only a block away, at 33rd Street and Sixth Avenue. It was once accessible via underground passageway, but this has been closed to the public for security reasons, and now the only access is via the surface streets.
 See also
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- Grand Central Terminal
- Jamestown Exposition
- Pennsylvania Railroad
- Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad
- Transportation in New York City
 External links
- Amtrak- Penn Station
- Photos and commentary documenting the demolition, by Norman McGrath
- Pennsylvania Station immortalized by Hollywood
- Plans for the future Penn Station
- Newer plans for the future Penn Station
- Remnants of the old Penn Station
- American Society of Civil Engineers paper 1157: The New York tunnel extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad describes the construction of the tunnel to Penn Station.
- Lorraine B. Diehl, The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station. Lexington, Massachusetts, Stephen Greene Press, 1985 ISBN 0-8289-0603-3
|Active terminals:||Penn Station (PT&T) - Grand Central - Flatbush Avenue - Long Island City - Hoboken|
|Former terminals:||Communipaw - Exchange Place - Pavonia - Weehawken|
|Other stations:||Jamaica - Newark Penn Station|