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Penn Station: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

October 24, 2023

From Architectural Splendor to Urban Embarrassment

Completed in 1910 and once a Beaux-Arts masterpiece, New York's Penn Station symbolized the city's grandeur. It featured a stunning design inspired by Roman architecture, adorned with Doric columns, and a grand concourse. However, by the mid-20th century, it faced challenges due to suburbanization and the financial struggles of the railroad. The original Penn Station was demolished in the early 1960s and replaced by Madison Square Garden and a far less glamorous transit hub.

the original penn station

The eastern entrance of the original Penn Station

Interestingly, the controversial loss of the original Penn Station sparked the historic preservation movement in the United States, leading to the preservation of many architectural landmarks. 

A Uninspired Hub of Commotion

Today, Penn Station is a bustling transportation hub serving 600,000 commuters and visitors each day and is a vital connection point in the Northeast. The current Penn Station is a complex of interconnected facilities, including Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and New Jersey Transit, and is conveniently linked to the New York City subway system. 

Efforts have been made to enhance the station's functionality and appearance. The recent renovation of the Moynihan Train Hall, located in the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building across the street from Penn Station, matched some of the grandeur of the original Penn Station. The Moynihan Train Hall features a soaring skylight, art installations, and a welcoming environment for travelers. In 2020, Facebook signed a massive office lease for 720,000 square feet, leasing all of the office space in the building. 

Things are different at Penn Station, which remains a subterranean warren where people-moving takes precedence over aesthetics and functionality. Commuters continue to rush through, navigating a maze of tunnels and platforms in much the same way they would have 50 years ago. What many of them don't realize is that we're on the verge of a transformation. 


The transformation of Penn Station into a world-class, commuter-focused transportation facility befitting the central hub of the greatest city in the world cannot come soon enough

Governor Kathy Hochul

Renewed Vision and Ambitions

The plan to revolutionize Penn Station is a bold and ambitious one. It envisions a world-class, passenger-centric transportation hub that will also revitalize the surrounding neighborhood, commonly known as The Penn District. The plan's centerpiece is replacing the current Penn Station with a spacious, single-level structure spanning 250,000 square feet. 

It will feature a brand-new, well-lit train hall larger than the Moynihan Train Hall and the primary concourses of Grand Central Terminal combined. Passengers can also expect a higher class of retail options, upgraded amenities, and an overall more welcoming environment. Beyond the station's boundaries, the plan encompasses a 30,000-square-foot public plaza and the much-needed expansion of sidewalks. 

Stay tuned!

penn station rendering

A rendering of the interior with skylights and new retail stores

What does this mean for office workers?

For companies that rent office space near Penn Station, the comprehensive upgrades and revitalization will significantly enhance the daily commuting experience for office workers. With improved infrastructure, enhanced reliability, increased accessibility, and a renewed focus on passenger comfort, the new Penn Station will be a vibrant transportation hub for all office workers to appreciate.