The Municipal Art Society's involvement with the Farley Post Office Building dates back to the 1980s, when Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was promoting the idea of building a new rail station within McKim, Mead & White's Post Office. The Municipal Art Society has supported the expansion of Penn Station since it was originally proposed and continues to support it today.
Senator Moynihan believed that America is the land of second chances. He saw the idea to build a new Penn Station in the landmark Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue from the current "stygian chamber" (hell hole) of a station as New York's golden opportunity to redeem itself for tearing down the original Pennsylvania Station. He persuaded Congress to allocate the funding so that New York would regain a grand gateway with room to grow.
The Municipal Art Society of New York is calling for a grand Moynihan Station. This call comes while developers plan to build a new Madison Square Garden in the west end of the Post Office, demolish the current Garden and construct a huge commercial office complex. This complex real estate play envisioned by the developers — Vornado and Related — is a great New York-scale idea in the tradition of the Vanderbilt's Grand Central City or the Rockefeller's Rockefeller Center. But dangers are apparent. Who will guarantee us a grand new train station? What will prevent the moved Garden from papering over McKim Mead & White's Corinthian columns with jumbo advertising signs? Will New York's favorite Post Office become ticket windows? Can a train hall be a lobby for the Knicks? These and other questions should not prevent a clear-eyed discussion of the developer's ideas. But who will be in charge?
Generations ago, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers were risking their own money. At the station, there's a lot of our tax dollars at stake. We must have public oversight so that this contract with the future will not be compromised by a commercial real estate deal.
New Penn Station, a campaign of the Municipal Art Society, was established to inform the public about the possibilities for a grand train station in Manhattan and to ensure the successful development of the Moynihan Station and wise preservation of the Farley Post Office. See our full position statement. It is also available to download as a PDF file.
In the late 1970s, the MAS took the lead in the case to defend New York City's Landmarks Law, organizing public rallies, launching a publicity campaign, and hiring a legal team. In 1978, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of the law, overturning a lower court decision and in effect preserving Grand Central Terminal, one of New York's great Beaux Arts structures.
News Media Inquiries
Members of the news media should contact George Shea, Shea Communications, at [email protected], 212-627-5766, cell: 917-584-0988.
Recent Moynihan Station Media Coverage
New York Times metro (4 July 2007)
WNBC-TV, Pressman (6 July 2007)
WNBC-TV, DeDapper (12 March 2007)
New York magazine web site (5 July 2007)
New York magazine, column (13 June 2005)