Friday, December 30, 2011

Moynihan Station: a new entrance to New York City

During my childhood I had one encounter with the old Penn Station in New York City; it was, and I mean this without irony, awesome. The design, by McKim, Meade & White, was based on the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Its destruction in 1963 gave life to the historic preservation movement in the City and elsewhere, and led to the enactment of the City's Landmarks Preservation Law, which became a model for similar laws in other cities. It also fostered the growth of organizations like the Municipal Art Society and the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

There is a plan, now partly funded, to restore at least some of the former splendor of Penn Station as a gateway to the City. This is to use presently unused space in the existing Farley Post Office Building, a massive neoclassical structure that stands above the tracks leading into Penn Station, to create a new passenger concourse and boarding area. This would be called "Moynihan Station" in honor of the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who proposed and worked to secure funding for it. A New York University film student, Mitchell Goulding, became interested in Moynihan Station and visited the Landmarks Conservancy, where he gathered the material for the video above. As a railfan, and particularly a Pennsylvania Railroad enthusiast, I appreciate his inclusion of shots of GG1 electric locomotives, which the Pennsy used on passenger trains between New York and Washington and west to Harrisburg, as well as of a K-4 steam locomotive in the autumn of its years, having been displaced by diesels for mainline passenger service, pulling what appears to be a commuter train, probably in New Jersey.


  1. In the nearly fifty years I've been going in and out of Penn Station, I've yet to find the right exit strategy on the first try. This will be a welcome fix--I hope.

  2. Anonymous1:55 PM

    What a waste, you will not be able to exit out the grand staircase of the Farley Post Office, only from the sides of the staircase because the Post Office is not going anywhere! The people behind this project really live in a fantasy world!

  3. Anonymous2:02 PM

    The sad and most disturbing thing about this just like the destruction of Penn Station the developers wanted the Air Rights....the same with the Farley Post Office...they want the Air the Preservationists have sold their souls to the Devil promoting a project that will in essence destroy the Farley Post Office....or in the least...Transform it..we are now transforming our landmarks?