New York’s Penn Station revamps major entrance ahead of hectic holiday travel rush

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By Dan Sears

The redesign of the 7th Avenue and 32nd Street entrance at New York’s Penn Station is finally complete — marking the latest in a massive overhaul of the country’s busiest train hub.

“It’s wider, which is great. It was always very crowded and now it’s not,” said Reginald Guillaume, who was standing outside the entrance on Sunday. “The sign is very beautiful.”

He added, “Before they started to renovate it, it looked like dystopian city. It doesn’t look like that anymore, which is great.”

Billions of dollars are being funneled into multiple projects to redesign the station — which an estimated 600,000 people rely on for their daily commute. Gov. Kathy Hochul previously nixed an initiative from the Andrew Cuomo administration to use fees from building skyscrapers to cover the renovations — and instead turned to $7 billion in state and federal subsidies. Another $300 million federal grant is being used to make room for two new Hudson River train tunnels at the station.

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“With the holiday season upon us, there is no better time for today’s announcement as millions will travel to New York to take advantage of all our city has to offer,” U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler said in a press release on Sunday.

The newly revamped entrance at Penn Station features an ADA-compliant elevator, three new escalators and wider sidewalks. There’s new signage and a glass canopy is replacing the previous concrete overhang — dating back to 1967. The new entrance expanded its width by 50%, according to estimates.

The overhaul has also been a sticking point. Some have criticized Hochul’s administration for dragging its feet on finally completing the redesign. And there’s been reports that the MTA recently held a closed door meeting about the redesign that excludes Amtrak officials, according to documents obtained by Gothamist.

“This project is an important step towards a wider transformation that looks to enhance the quality of the spaces between buildings and make the busiest transportation hub in North America welcoming and inviting for all,” said Nigel Dancey, who heads Foster + Partners, which designed the glass canopy.

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The new entrance comes just in time for New Yorkers as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it expects a record number of travelers – nearly 8.5 million people – to use its bridges and tunnels and nearly 3.1 million passengers will use its airports over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Contributed reporting by Ramsey Khalifeh and Elizabeth Shwe.

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