Logan CrawfordJul 17, 2017, 6:01 pm

Moynihan Project the next step in Penn Station's evolution

The gateway to Manhattan, which opened in 1910, is in the midst of a nearly $2 billion project expected to be finished by 2020

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For more than a century, Penn Station has been a gateway to Manhattan. Opening its doors to the public in 1910, the station was named after its original owner and builder: the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Hailed by many as an attractive piece of history, the original Penn Station stood several stories tall, with glass windows letting light shine into its cathedral-like interior.

It was torn down in the 60s when it was sold by Pennsylvania Railroad as ridership decreased, and to make room for Madison Square Garden. Many who pass through the current Penn Station say it's overcrowded, dark, and small.

"It’s too small for too many people,” said Matthew Caldecutt of Forest Hills. “And the station that was left here after the original was torn down was quite clearly an afterthought."

Amtrak officials say ridership on their trains has increased over the years, from more than 7.5 million passengers in fiscal year 2006 to more than 10 million in fiscal year 2016.

With 21 tracks, Penn Station is the home of Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and for more than 100 years, the Long Island Rail Road.

LIRR rider Emily Miethner says she would like to see the hub have more places to wait, among other things.

"I would say more food places that can get people in and out quicker so you don't have to worry about missing your train," said Miethner.

After several derailments earlier this year, current Penn Station owner Amtrak decided now is the time to move ahead with infrastructure improvements.

3 of the tracks are closed during the summer repair work, meaning 20 percent fewer trains are running for commuters.

Matthew Caldecutt thinks there weren't enough trains running as it was, saying, "They really need more tracks and more trains coming from more locations."

The long-awaited Moynihan Project aims to restore Penn Station to its former glory, expanding it to the Farley Post Office Building across the street, adding more concourses for the LIRR and Amtrak, a bigger and brighter waiting area for commuters, high glass ceilings, and retail shops.

Phase 1 of the project finished last month, with a brand new west concourse opening to passengers. The entrance is in the Farley Post Office on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue. The rest of the nearly $2 billion project is expected to be finished by 2020.

Stu Mattana of Manhattan said, "We've come a long way in New York as far as Penn Station goes. But it still needs to get better."

Amtrak officials say they have 360 engineering workers performing the track improvements. They expect to have the work finished on time and for the train schedules to return to normal by Labor Day.

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