The Moynihan Train Hall was my next major photographic destination after the Flatiron Building. Because of my interest in architecture and trains, I wanted to visit the three major train stations in New York City. The first one was the Oculus Center in lower Manhattan.
Completed in January 2021, the Moynihan Train Hall spans one city block, between 31st and 33rd Street and eight and ninth avenues in midtown Manhattan. The redesign created an atrium out of a repurposed 1914 post office — once the city’s main branch — as an expansion of the Pennsylvania Station, the main intercity and commuter rail station in New York City.
While this train hall expands the capacity of an overtaxed Penn Station, it also tries to make amends for a historical and architectural tragedy. The previous Penn Station — grand as any in Europe — opened its doors in 1910. Despite the protests of architects and the citizenry, it was demolished in the early 1960s and replaced by a pitiful underground structure that remains today. This photo essay from CBS News features many images of the original structure.
The resulting outcry spurred the landmarks preservation movement that saved other historic New York structures, such as the Grand Central Terminal.
And though the reconstituted station doesn’t appear to match the grandeur of the original, it’s infinitely better than the current rats nest that is Penn Station. The Moynihan has an elegance that befits a central train station in a world-class city.
Architecturally, it appears to echo the metal-framed atrium of the previous Penn Station — though simpler and streamlined. The centrally placed clock hangs like a chandelier, though its gray monotone color seems industrial and perhaps too restrained.
The generous LED wall displays create a thoroughly modern feeling. I like the contrast between the classic and the modern.
I used the Fujifilm GFX 50S II to document the still-new redeveloped train station. I shot all of them at a 28mm equivalent focal length except for this last picture. At 55mm equivalent, I compressed the clock and track entrance displays while also fitting the station’s name in the background — named after New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
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