Thinking Big about New York

January 15, 2016

From the print edition, The Economist

IT WAS demolished more than 50 years ago, but New Yorkers still miss the old Penn Station. The beaux-arts style building boasted vaulted glass windows 46 metres high and a waiting room inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla. It was replaced by a soulless high-rise and Madison Square Garden, a sports arena and theatre neither square nor verdant. Since then commuters from Long Island and New Jersey and passengers using Amtrak’s regional rail lines have had to navigate an outdated, cramped, subterranean labyrinth. Now Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, has a plan to give America’s busiest transit hub a belated makeover.Website Insert New Passenger Train Service copy

The $3 billion scheme builds on one first proposed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a senator who died in 2003. It involves moving Amtrak across the road to a near empty, but very grand, post office. The two buildings would be connected underground. Penn station’s 650,000 daily passengers would enjoy decreased congestion, increased train capacity and natural light. Mr Cuomo says most of the work for the new “Empire Station” would be paid for by private developers.

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