Under a soaring vaulted skylight and a massive Art Deco clock, Governor Andrew Cuomo formally unveiled the new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station Wednesday with a ceremonial—and socially distanced—ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This is a work of art that we don’t build anymore. It’s too breathtaking and ambitious to ask, ‘Can we really do that?’ Many doubters said it was too bold and audacious but we said we could,” Cuomo said at the ceremony. “This is a great public work. A different kind of statement that says we understand and appreciate the significance of public works.”
Train operations at the Moynihan Train Hall are expected to begin January 1st. The $1.6 billion project turns the century-old James A. Farley post office building into a transit hub, increasing Penn Station’s size by 50%.
Construction began in 2017 on the 255,000-square-foot train hall, named for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who advocated for the project for years. The expansion plan was talked about for decades and derided as a “taxpayer-funded mall” that did little to address train service. In January, Cuomo unveiled a blueprint to add eight new tracks and increase Penn Station’s capacity by 40% through acquiring an entire block south of the Midtown transit hub for a new terminal.
An acre of glass was used for the massive skylight in the new hall, which was designed to evoke the Beaux Arts grandeur of the old Pennsylvania Station, according to architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
The hall also makes use of its origins in the Farley post office, which was designed by McKim, Mead and White after they designed the original Pennsylvania Station in 1910. The striking steel trusses that make up the four vaults are original, where the mail police used to patrol to inspect the sorting floor below. Art installations from Kehinde Wiley and Elmgreen & Dragset pop up throughout the hall.
Hostile architecture shows up as well, with blue benches in the waiting rooms designed to deter sleeping people.
The new train hall is located across from Penn Station between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 31st and 33rd Streets and connects to the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak platforms and tracks, as well as the subway. There will be a Starbucks:
This @Starbucks, at the new Moynihan Train Hall, is staffed with at least 10 workers — but the shop isn’t actually open today, and nothing can be purchased. The workers, on duty to show what an open Starbucks would look like, are leaving soon after the governor’s event ends. pic.twitter.com/VqPOY5dxht
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) December 30, 2020
Check back later for more photos and full coverage of Tuesday’s opening.
With Annie Todd and Jake Dobkin