Penn Station

Penn Station

New York’s Pennsylvania Station, or Penn Station as it is known, is the busiest train station in North America and one of the busiest rail stations in the world. As the major hub of mass transit in New York City, Penn Station moves thousands of passengers to their destinations every single day.

New York's Travelling Hub

Owned by Amtrak, Penn Station is New York City’s main commuter hub. The Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the New York City subway system all run through Penn Station. The rail line runs south to Washington D.C. and north to Boston. Penn Station connects to the Penn Plaza office towers and Madison Square Garden.

Lost Architecture

The Penn Station commuters are familiar with is very different from the original Penn Station. Completed in August 1910, the first Penn Station was considered to be one of the most beautiful structures in New York City. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, the architectural masterpiece spanned eight acres and boasted a majestic 150-foot ceiling and a 277-foot long waiting room.

Penn Station was the largest structure ever built for rail travel. Over 500 buildings were demolished and thousands of feet of tunnels were dug under the Hudson River to accommodate it. Supported on 650 steel columns, the massive building featured two grand carriageways inspired by Berlin's Brandenburg Gate that led to the station’s two railroads.

The station’s owner, Pennsylvania Railroad, began to lose money after World War II as people began to move out of the cities and started using cars and airplanes for travel instead of the train. Pennsylvania Railroad sold the empty space above the building in 1955 and it was decided that Penn Station would eventually be torn down. The demolition began in 1963. Pennsylvania Plaza, which opened in 1968, includes Madison Square Garden and the Pennsylvania Plaza skyscrapers. The Penn Station of today is underground, beneath the office towers.

Controversy at Penn's Demise

The destruction of such a revered piece of the city’s architecture was so controversial it sparked New York City's landmarks preservation movement. A 1963 New York Times editorial titled “Farewell to Penn Station” warned: "Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn't afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."

Some of the beautiful details of the original building remain in today’s Penn Station, offering a glimpse into the stations’ lost grandeur, including some brass banisters, glass floor bricks and two of the massive stone eagles from the building’s exterior.

Visiting Penn Station in New York City

Penn Station is situated underneath Pennsylvania Plaza in midtown Manhattan between 7th and 8th Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets.

The main entrance is on 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets. Passengers can also enter through the subway stations on 34th Street and 7th Avenue, and on 34th Street and 8th Avenue.

New Jersey Transit, the Amtrak tracks and ticket booths are located on the upper level. The Long Island Rail Road tracks, subway lines, ticket booths and restaurants are located on the lower level.

Click here for more information and pictures for the Penn Station