City Wants Gimbel’s, Other Penn Station Tunnels Reopened
March 12th, 2008, 2:23 pm
Today, Eliot Brown of the Observer reports the Department of City Planning “is seeking ways to create an expansive pedestrian network of tunnels and walkways in the area around [Penn Station].” We recently provided a bit of history and some photos of Gimbel’s and the Sixth Avenue underground and received several interesting comments in return.
The MAS believes the Moynihan Station project provides an opportunity to create a lively underground network in the Penn Station/Hudson Yards area similar to Rockefeller Center. Re-opening and rehabilitating existing tunnels will alleviate the horrific pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks around Herald Square and enhance the connections between Penn Station and the subways. According to Brown:
The improvements the city is considering, the cost of which may be borne by private developers and landowners, include a reopening of the so-called “Gimbel’s passageway,” a tunnel that would connect Penn Station to Herald Square and the N, R, Q, and W subway lines on Sixth Avenue; a possible walkway along 33rd Street in a below-grade moat-like space on the northern edge of the Farley Post Office; and improving subway stations in the area.
Members from two community boards, among other attendees, were briefed recently by the Department of City Planning on the planned improvements being considered, which are preliminary and would be part of a zoning change connected with the Moynihan Station project. The planning department, led by director Amanda Burden, has previously expressed the desire for pedestrian improvements in the area, as have community and civic groups such as the Municipal Art Society.
On a related note, “attendees to the meetings with the Planning Department said they were told a building of 1,100 or 1,200 feet could rise on the east end of the Vornado Realty Trust-owned block just north of Penn Station, between 33rd and 34th streets. That would be 100 or so feet shorter than the Empire State Building.” It’s difficult to tell from the rendering, but the tallest of the new buildings appears to be on the block just east of Penn Station, between 32nd and 33rd streets.