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The Municipal Art Society of New York knows something about train stations. In the 1970s, together with board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, we successfully rallied New Yorkers to save Grand Central Terminal from the wrecking ball.

It's time to rally again. But this time, it's not about a wrecking ball. It's about ensuring that we get a first-class Moynihan Station as a truly grand work of public architecture and a transportation center that really works.

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Why not rebuild in the original style?

Look, I'm not a New Yorker -- I live 3,000 miles away, in what you folks like to call the "Far West" -- but I've been intrigued to read on the web about the proposals to rebuild Penn Station in some manner. I had occasion to visit New York a few years ago, and couldn't believe the awfulness of New York's train station. The bus depot here in Spokane, Wash. is more elegant. As something of an architecture buff, I know the station's story, and I remember standing there on the street, looking at the Post Office across the way, and thinking how magnificent the street must have looked when there was another classically inspired building facing it.

On the web I've been reading stories about moving the depot into the Post Office, or maybe developing some sort of modernistic train station on the site of the old station -- and I wonder, am I the only one who has the thought I'm about to suggest here?

Why not just rebuild Pennsylvania Station? Show the world that New York made a mistake, and that the city is willing to correct it? The reconstruction need not be slavish, but it ought to follow the same general Baths of Caracalla idea. I suspect some sort of modification might be necessary from a function/efficiency standpoint, and there may be ways to incorporate retail space to make the building a moneymaker. I've read that some of the original proposals, back in 1910, would have incorporated a skyscraper office tower (and that the lack of a tower made the station economically unviable in the 1960s). Well, by all means, add a tower! Put Madison Square Garden in it, if it will make people happy, or put it in the Post Office, or chuck it into the ocean for all it matters. It's the train station that counts. For gosh sakes, make it look like the old Pennsylvania Station.

Any modernistic design will look dated within a few years, but beaux-arts classicism is timeless. If New York wants a new icon, it needn't agonize over the design, the way it did over the new building at Ground Zero. We know what Pennsylvania Station looked like; we revere it today as the country's most important lost landmark; why do people today think for an instant they can come up with anything better?

Penn Station Tower

I concur with the idea of building a new Penn Station on the site of the old, with one addition; put a tower on top of the station. Not some dinky glass box like what is there now. No, I'm talking a grand tower on the scale of the Empire State Building, whose design is fully incorporated with the design of the station. This way everybody wins: the Garden operators get there facility away from the station, we get a palace of a train station, LIRR and NJ Transit can still have their station in the Farley building (that makes all kinds of sense, especially with underground tunnels to New Penn Station), and the operators of the station get a 100+ story (wouldn't make sense any smaller, and wouldn't be imposing enough otherwise) tower generating rent to help cover the costs of the station.

Is it inexpensive? Hardly: this is a $10 to 20 Billion (with a b) dollar project.

Is it easy? No, but any version of a new station is going to be a huge challenge

But I feel that my proposal answers all the issues, and creates a new grand entrance to the City that New York so richly deserves.

(and we could call the building 'Gotham Tower' if we really wanted to get crazy)

New Penn Station

The civic travesty of razing the original Penn Station MUST be reversed. MSG needs to be rebuilt on the west side (NOT in the Farley P.O.) and the No 7 train extended west; tear down 2 Penn Plaza and rebuild Penn Station right where it was. It needs entrances on 7th (LIRR) and 8th (Amtrak) avenues. Turn Farley into Moynihan Station, as the new home of NJ Transit and Path. This is the busiest commuter hub in the country, it needs both stations. Amtrak owns Penn Station and wants to keep the name, which it should. An underground people mover to connect New Penn and Moynihan would be nice. I hope this gets done in my lifetime. The needs of the greedy real estate moguls at Related, Vornado, et al should not be driving this process, the citizens of NYC should.

New Penn Station

What are you talking about, Mark? Don't you realize that the plan is a go & nothing in your proposal makes sense? Who do you think you are, a transit engineer? There are highly educated & well compensated urban planners & transit engineers here at NJT who have studied proposals & already eliminated inefficient designs & proposals such as yours. Please re-think your suggestion & get on right track. The train has already left the station. BTW, nice hat.

Moynihan Under One Roof

First, I would like to respond to that which has been posted already and say that I think that Mark's suggestion makes sense in that he is attempting to envision something that HE feels makes sense. That in and of itself adds value to any project. And Josh, while urban planners may have thought through this project already and ruled out designs that are "inefficient" these same "highly educated and well compensated" planners have let us down before and I am afraid that by the looks of the current plans they may be failing us once again.

To move on though, I would like to throw my own crazy notion into the ring and ask if it would be possible to create a Moynihan Station that is all housed under one roof in the Post Office and Annex buildings? In a discussion yesterday at MAS the idea was floated and the technical issue of a narrow track width under the annex was raised. From a layman's perspective this seems as though it would require adjustments, but that it could be adjusted. If anyone could comment on this I would greatly appreciate the insight on the issue.

From my own perspective it seems that overcoming this challenge would be well worth the effort. I believe that it was Senator Moynihan's original intention in conceiving of a new Penn Station that it be a great public space that would not only serve the need of commuters, but also to inspire and serve as a grand civic space. In reviewing the current plans with Madison Square Garden placed in the Annex I can't help, but be overwhelmed by the irony of the situation, but I am also concerned that such a juxtaposition will take away from the intended effect of creating a place that we can be proud of as a society.

Unfortunately, there are only a few of these truly grand architectural gems in our city that remain to serve the public good including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 42nd Street Library, Grand Central Station, Museum of Natural History, and the US Custom House. Can anyone even imagine what the effect would be of saying let's take the west side of the 42nd street library and convert it into a Verizon Office/Store so that we could free up the property on the other side of 6th Avenue? It would destroy the appearance of the building and it would take away from the grand public purpose that the Library serves.

I hope this gets some ideas rolling on the issue and I look forward to hearing back from the experts on the possibilities of keeping Moynihan Station under one roof to best serve the public good. Thanks.

New-Old Penn Station

There has been many grand and fine ideas for a new Penn Station and some major flaws. Several of the modern renderings go too far from what was lost and there is no or little incentive to save what little remains.

In short I will describe the primer development for the current MSG and 2 Penn Plaza site.

The original lot , 31st-33st and 7th-8th Avenues must be vacated and restored to public use. on the 8th Avenue site the complete original station must be res erected in it's former grander of the late station. There will be several modern additions, including opening skylight, AC and modern information systems installed. (Original track indicators with solar i signs) All glass elevators to each track from the center of the main concurs. no escalators all original stairs restored. The great room which had the tall arched windows would be restored as well. The remaining lot on the East end of the building would be used for a tower, either a new hotel Pennsylvania or office space. The 7th avenue side would be used for retail and commercial development. All this is to be built within a full scale replica of the old Penn's perimeter. You want retail and mostly food places. You do not want to make it into a shopping mall or department store. The whole point in rebuilding Penn is to make 2 thing happen. A larger and more welcoming gateway into New York by rail, and replicate the temple of transportation to all extents possible. The only other mistake in any rebuilding of Penn is to not rebuild Penn the way it should look. We have a rare chance to rebuild something that was wrongfully taken away from us over 40 years ago. Lets rebuild it that way.
I need someone with CAD to model this vision of mine.


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