Moynihan Train Hall, New Yorkers’ Newest Icon
Moynihan Train Hall was created to improve the travel experience at Penn Station. Penn Station was known as the busiest intercity railroad station in the Western Hemisphere.
According to <The New York Times>, some experts believe nearly 800 languages are spoken in New York City. As much as it’s a symbol of international success, New York at its heart was built by hard-working immigrants and their ordinary life. This is why New Yorkers are especially proud of and passionate about their city. And for the first time in a long while, they finally have a place they can proudly call their own. Meet Moynihan Train Hall.
Opened earlier this year, Moynihan Train Hall is in Midtown Manhattan, as an expansion of Penn Station. It became the new home for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Amtrak is a famous railroad service that cuts across America. LIRR is a major commuter rail system connecting Manhattan and Long Island in the southeastern part of New York. Penn Station serves 600,000 passengers per day as one of the busiest intercity railroad stations in the Western Hemisphere.

Quaker Grey marble, main materials for the center of the hall, floors and walls, creates a touch of warmth and comfort.

The train hall makes it easy for passengers to find directions.

Arched glass ceilings and steel trusses supporting them.

Opulence of Gilded Age
Penn Station, currently located beneath Madison Square Garden, once took up an entire building measured at over 32,000㎡. Let’s turn back the clock to the early 20th century. To travel on train in Manhattan, passengers had to ferry to reach Jersey City. Sensing an opportunity for new possibilities, Alexander Cassatt, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, built Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan. It’s called ‘Original Penn Station’ today.
The station opened in 1910 and was immediately hailed for making traveling easier. Its design was something else, too. Built during the Gilded Age, the station adopted a Beaux-Arts architectural design. McKim, Mead & White the architectural firm that handled the design, took its cues from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Milford pink granite, honeycomb-coffered ceilings, arched trusses, mighty marble columns, and towering windows allowing light to pour in were all great sources of pride for New Yorkers.
But the beloved Original Penn Station was demolished in 1963, due to the decline in passengers after the conclusion of World War II. To reduce service, a new complex was put up in the original lot, with Penn Station moving underneath Madison Square Garden.

Emitting soft light, 72,000 LEDs placed inside the large sculpture create a fantastic view. / Elmgreen & Dragset, The Hive, 2020, Stainless steel, aluminum, polycarbonate, LED lights, and lacquer, Commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund for Moynihan Train Hall. Photo: Nicholas Knight, courtesy Empire State Development and Public Art Fund, NY

Building Promising New Opportunities
This demolition came as a major shock for New Yorkers, so much so that they have since become more vigilant on preserving historic buildings. Thankfully, a building standing across the Original Penn Station still retained that elegant architectural DNA. It’s James A. Farley Building, long used as a USPS post office. The same architects for Penn Station opened the Farley Building in 1914. And following an ambitious historic restoration and renovation, it has been reborn as Moynihan Train Hall, an expansion of Penn Station. The hall is named after the late U.S. Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, who first promoted the idea for the project in the early 1990s.
The Farley Building is humongous. It takes up two entire superblocks between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, and 31st and 33rd Streets. This was a challenging project. But in 2016, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo brought the idea back into the spotlight, announcing his plans to develop the building and the train hall through an innovative public-private partnership. Hope finally became reality. The building isn’t just there to provide railroad services: you can go shopping or grab a bite to eat. Presently, Moynihan Train Hall is the main feature, but later in the year, a 68,000 commercial space will gradually fill in. Shops and restaurants are scheduled to open. Facebook has already committed to move in, and other companies are expected to follow.
“It promises renewal and rebirth of civic life in New York, and points to the opportunity ahead.”
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York

The main concourse clock has four faces. Hung about 8 meters (25 feet) high, it’s easy to see from anywhere.

Covelano Silver marble was used at the base connected with steel columns.

Escalator to the platforms. Covelano Silver marble was used.

Convenience and Luxury, as Demanded in New Era
Moynihan Train Hall is a prime example of the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, one of the most oft-talked about concepts in architecture today. The project began with full restoration of 18,580㎡ stone façade, 700 windows, copper roof, steel trusses and terra-cotta cornices. Internationally renowned architectural firm SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) took charge, and they picked out elements from the Original Penn Station that people wanted to remember and gave them new life in modern and restrained elegance.
The vast space, far larger than present-day Penn Station, and light-filled atrium creates a sense of safety and health. The main train hall, without any columns blocking views, looks that much larger. Quaker Grey marble appoints the floors and walls there, bringing a touch of warmth when natural light shines through. The marbled comes from the same quarries in Tennessee that provided the marble for Grand Central Terminal 100 years ago. The proud American stone will stand the test of time.
The glass ceiling, which helps fill the hall with natural light at a height of 28 meters, takes up 4,046㎡. Skylight openings are framed with a linear light, which adjusts to complement daylight values. During even rush hours, it sets on a warmer white value. The same goes for the main concourse clock, designed by Peter Pennoyer Architects. The iconic font design was originally created for railroad and highway signage.

Artwork in the Ticketed Waiting Room. / Stan Douglas, 1 March 1914 and 2 March 1914, from Penn Station’s Half Century, 2020, Ceramic ink on glass. One of nine photographic panels from Penn Station’s Half Century, Commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund for Moynihan Train Hall ©Stan Douglas. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner. Photo: Nicholas Knight, courtesy Empire State Development and Public Art Fund, NY

Artistic Experience with A Museum Level
A lot of work was done on permanent art displays. Three groups of art that live up to lofty artistic standards of New York are the outcomes of collaborations with world-renowned artists. Take a look at Ticketed Waiting Room by The Rockwell Group. Built-in benches wrapped in durable walnut wood slats serve as the backdrop to Canadian artist Stan Douglas’ photo series, titled ‘Penn Station’s Half Century.’ Douglas reconstructed nine important moments from the history of the Original Penn Station and combined photographs of costumed performers with digitally recreated interiors of the demolished station.
At 31st Street mid-block entry, you can spot ‘The Hive,’ by the Berlin-based, Scandinavian duo, Elmgreen & Dragset. The inverted cityscape, featuring some 100 buildings, descends from the ceiling like luminous stalactite, and the artists used their mirror-like base for a reason. They wanted passengers to see their reflection and feel as if they were in an imaginary city. The name of the piece, ‘The Hive,’ implies that a city is built on collaboration by numerous people who accept particular rules in order to live with one another.

Modern-day people depicted in ceiling frescoes and stained glass. / Kehinde Wiley, Go, 2020 © Kehinde Wiley. An original work of art commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund for Moynihan Train Hall. Photographer: Nicholas Knight. Image courtesy of the Artist, Sean Kelly, New York, Empire State Development and Public Art Fund, NY

Then across from The Hive, at 33rd Street mid-block entry, is a rare stained-glass installation by Kehinde Wiley, best known for painting former U.S. President Barack Obama’s portrait. Titled ‘Go,’ the piece restages the grandeur of 18th century European ceiling frescoes. And instead of angels typically seen in frescoes, Wiley put in modern Black men and women performing breakdance in the sky. Wiley wanted to tell the purest joy.
“The aesthetic of Black culture is the aesthetic of survival, of buoyancy and saliency and the ability to float in the midst of so much.”
Artist Kehinde Wiley
New Yorkers are hopeful that Moynihan Train Hall will bring about more changes. In addition to renovation of the inhospitable and impervious superblocks of the Penn-Farley complex and improving complicated railways, they would like to see a central link between the vibrant communities of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the Garment District, Times Square, Midtown South and beyond.
Transformations have begun. And we can count on so much more from New York.

Where to Stay in New York: LOTTE NEW YORK PALACE
LOTTE NEW YORK PALACE is housed in the late-19th century mansion built by the financier Henry Villard, while also featuring a 55-story modern tower. Having appeared in the popular U.S. TV show <Gossip Girl> and several other films, the hotel has become a must-stop destination in New York. It has 909 rooms, plus a beautiful courtyard inspired by the 15th century Italian cathedral, restaurant Villard, luxury salon Rarities and cocktail bar Trouble’s Trust.
Address 455 Madison Avenue at 50th St., New York
Phone +1-800-804-7035
June 2021 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Writer:Yeah Joon Han-Mann

Where to stay?

  • June 2021
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
    Writer: Yeah Joon Han-Mann
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