Stepping into New Year with style: New Yorkers finally got a new train hall, with a 92-foot-tall ceiling and art installations.
On New Year's Day, NYC's Penn station finally got the hall it deserved. It's also a symbolic way to leave 2020 behind, as New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced at a preopening event on Dec. 30.
"As dark as 2020 has been, this new hall will bring the light, literally and figuratively, for everyone who visits this great city."
Once home to a mail-sorting facility, the gorgeous new hall now welcomes arriving and departing Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road riders. It's an addition to the existing Penn Station complex, which will continue to serve New Jersey Transit commuters and overnight Amtrak travelers when the Moynihan Train Hall is closed.
Penn Station's Moynihan Train Hall
Moynihan Train Hall is located across the street from the original Penn Station on Eighth Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets.
The hall's inside the Farley Post Office building, previously used as Postal Service's sorting room. Cuomo explained:
"The great skylight was not just a beautiful piece of architecture. It brought the light into the building, so they could see the mail and read the envelopes and do the sorting."
The beautiful new Moynihan Train Hall took almost three decades and $1.6 billion to finish. It features a retro-style waiting area for passengers and an attached bathroom.
The upper floor features the Metropolitan Lounge. The premium travelers can access this area, giving them a feeling that they're at a fancy international airport.
On display are three new site-specific art pieces selected by Empire State Development in partnership with the Public Art Fund.
Elmgreen & Dragset's "The Hive" features 91 inverted skyscrapers on the 31st Street mid-block entrance ceiling. Stan Douglas' "Penn Station's Half-Century" has nine panels representing iconic moments at the train station. It is located in the ticketed waiting room. You can find Kehinde Wiley's "Go" at the 33rd Street entrance. It is hand-painted with Black New Yorkers breakdancing in the sky.
A food court will start working in the fall of 2021. It will feature Magnolia Bakery, H&H Bagels, and Jacob's Pickles, among others.
A new beginning
The new 255,000 square-foot facility is larger than Grand Central Terminal's main hall. It expands Penn Station space by 50 percent. Additionally, it provides 40 new escalators and stairs to platforms. Impressive is an understatement.
This magnificent hall is named after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former senator who originally presented the idea of this facility.
In 1991, Amtrak came up with the Penn Station Facility and Needs Assessment. They considered that this space should be used for passengers. Now, it's all brand new and marks a new era for the city.
Amtrak President Stephen Gardner told Travel + Leisure, this is only the beginning:
"This is the first prime piece of a larger expansion of the whole Penn complex. "
"This gives us the new headhouse space, which allows us to relieve some of the congestion and improve the passenger experience."
Despite the glorious hall, this is a start. New York needs additional tracks and platforms, and the city's officials are making them a priority.
Mixing fluorescent lights with art pieces, vintage, and history, with modern technologies will make one of the most exciting cities in the world even more exciting.