New Train Hall Opens at Penn Station, Echoing Building’s Former Glory

The Moynihan Train Hall, with glass skylights and 92-foot-high ceilings, will open Jan. 1 as an area for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad riders. The New York Times: For more than half a century, New Yorkers have trudged through the crammed platforms, dark hallways and oppressively low ceilings of Pennsylvania Station, the busiest and perhaps most miserable train hub in North America. Entombed beneath Madison Square Garden, the station served 650,000 riders each weekday before the pandemic, or three times the number it was built to handle. But as more commuters return to Penn Station next year, they will be welcomed by a new, $1.6 billion train hall complete with over an acre of glass skylights, art installations and 92-foot-high ceilings that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who championed the project, has likened to the majestic Grand Central Terminal. After nearly three years of construction, the new Moynihan Train Hall, in the James A. Farley Post Office building across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station, will open to the public on Jan. 1 as a waiting room for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers.

For decades, the huge undertaking was considered an absolution of sorts for one of the city’s greatest sins: the demolition in the 1960s of the original Penn Station building, an awe-inspiring structure that was a stately gateway to the country’s economic powerhouse. The destruction of the station was a turning point in New York’s civic life. It prompted a fierce backlash among defenders of the city’s architectural heritage, the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and renewed efforts to protect Grand Central Terminal. That the project has been completed during a period when the city was brought to a standstill is a hopeful reminder that the bustle of Midtown Manhattan will return, Mr. Cuomo said. The train hall “sends a clear message to the world that while we suffered greatly as a result of this once-in-a-century health crisis, the pandemic did not stop us from dreaming big and building for the future,” he added. The project has its detractors, who fault state officials for not going far enough in reimagining Penn Station. These critics note that the Moynihan Train Hall will serve only some of the passengers who use Penn Station, ignoring the needs of subway riders.

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