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Moynihan Station: Principles for a Landmark

moynihan station angle

When considering the westward expansion of Midtown and the development of the Far West Side, the MAS has always believed that the most important anchor for the neighborhood will be Moynihan Station. Penn Station is fast approaching its physical capacity. It accommodates 550,000 passengers daily, mostly commuters. These people make up 29 percent of the city’s work force. With new development coming west of Ninth Avenue, more than 100,000 additional workers are anticipated in the neighborhood by 2035.

With the project now years behind schedule, and final plans expected soon, the MAS reiterates its bedrock principles for the station.

  • First and foremost, a modern rail station should be constructed within the walls of the James A. Farley General Post Office on Eighth Avenue at 33rd Street, and transportation should be the facility’s main purpose.
  • Moynihan Station should be a grand gateway to New York City, something the city lost with the destruction of Pennsylvania Station more than 40 years ago. Design and construction should move forward quickly with full respect for the post office’s city landmark status.
  • Expansion space should be reserved for transportation functions to grow over time so that the station can serve its role as an economic catalyst for Manhattan’s newest business district and residential neighborhood, the Far West Side.
  • Special attention should be devoted to public safety, with well-planned internal circulation patterns — from the curb to the platform — and with the placement of entry and egress on all sides of the station.
  • To knit Moynihan Station into the fabric of the neighborhood, visitors, commuters and local pedestrians should be able to walk in enclosed passages from Sixth Avenue to Ninth Avenue — and perhaps beyond — allowing easy access to subways, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the High Line, Hudson River Park and future developments.

When it comes to Moynihan Station, one could say that the MAS was present at the creation. Back in the 1980s, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was promoting the idea of building a new rail station within McKim, Mead & White’s post office. We took on the cause then and have been advocating for it ever since.

In the late 1990s, Senator Moynihan asked us to help encourage the notion that New York should once again have a grand train station and intermodal transportation portal worthy of a great city. We produced a master plan at his request and helped jump-start the project. Our work led to a statement from President Clinton on March 4, 1998, announcing that an accord had been reached, federal funding had been secured, and “plans to restore the James Farley Post Office Building are now underway.”

Eight years later, we eagerly await the final plans for the project and hope sincerely that they remain true to Senator Moynihan’s essential vision and the principles just outlined.

(On January 25, the MAS hosted a special program on Moynihan Station featuring Maura Moynihan, director of Friends of Moynihan Station, Paul Goldberger, architectural critic at The New Yorker and dean of Parsons School of Design, Peter Stangl, former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Alex Washburn, former president of the Penn Station Redevelopment Corporation. Click on the icon to the right to read the transcript.