The new Amtrak addition to New York City’s Penn Station is the Moynihan Train Hall, which is the new “home of Amtrak” in the big apple. It’s located directly across from Penn Station in the historic James A. Farley Post Office building on 8th Avenue. The beauty of the historic early 1900s building, paired with the expansion of its passenger services, will ensure a top-notch experience for anyone passing through.
Here’s What You Can Expect
Stepping into the new train hall, travelers will experience the “grand and spacious” concourse, with a sky lit atrium. Enhanced customer amenities include dedicated customer waiting areas, a combined ticketing and baggage area, improved passenger comfort and security, accessibility for customers with disabilities, complimentary Wi-Fi in customer spaces and a dedicated lactation lounge for nursing mothers.
The premium Metropolitan Lounge, formerly ClubAcela, will provide priority boarding, expanded food and beverage offerings, family waiting area, dedicated customer service agents and private restrooms.
Moynihan Train Hall is open between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. Between the hours that its closed, Amtrak operations will be handled at Penn Station. The train hall and Penn Station will be operating as one complex. “Though Amtrak will maintain a presence at Penn Station, Moynihan Train Hall will be our new home in New York City,” Amtrak’s website reads.
The two locations are connected with two different paths. One is simply exiting Penn Station onto 8th Avenue and crossing the street, and the other is to pass through the Long Island Rail Road concourse level.
Traveling soon and worried you won’t know how to navigate the new establishment? Amtrak will have staff at Moynihan Train Hall to assist passengers for a period of time after the opening.
The Moynihan Train Hall is perfect for those traveling to Long Island as well, considering it will have house not just Amtrak but the Long Island Rail Road as well. It will provide easier connection to destinations on Long Island and the Air Train to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
How Did the Train Hall Come to Fruition?
The new addition is remarkable, and you might be wondering how it came to fruition. Amtrak partnered with the Empire State Development to renovate the post office building in order to “relieve crowding and improve passenger comfort and security.” The post office building was designed by the same architecture firm, McKim, Mead and White, as the original Penn Station. The project was in thanks to a public-private partnership between not only Empire State Development and Amtrak, but Vornado Realty Trust, Related Companies, Skanska, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Long Island Rail Road and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well.
The renovation took place in two phases. The first phase was to reimagine the West End Concourse of Penn Station, which provided new stairs and elevators to platforms, a passenger circulation space with new train information boards and escalators connecting to the new entrance. The second phase was to actually create Moynihan Train Hall. The construction included a “dramatically larger” boarding concourse in addition to the aforementioned highlights.
The train hall is 255,000-square-feet and cost a total of $1.6 billion. Originally, the project was announced in 2016 as a part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. With 2020 being a year of uncertainty and a lack of revenue across the board, Moynihan Train Hall was still able to be built.
“New Yorkers have known for decades that Penn Station needed to be reimagined — and after years of work, the Moynihan Train Hall will open on time and on budget at the end of 2020,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release. “This monumental accomplishment is a shot of hope as we come out of one of darkest periods in our history and sends a clear message to the world that while we suffered greatly as a result of this once-in-a-century health crisis, the pandemic did not stop us from dreaming big and building for the future. The new Moynihan Train Hall is the embodiment of New York Tough.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
The train hall is named after the late United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was a Navy veteran and also represented New York State in the Senate for 24 years. He advocated for new possibilities of railways around the world and in New York City, and may have been one of the first to suggest turning the Farley post office into a train station after the destruction of the original Penn Station happened between 1963 and 1966 to make room for Madison Square Garden.
The Moynihan Train Hall isn’t the only addition to the Farley building. The rest of the space, totaling 700,000-square-feet, will be mixed-use development with retail and commercial office space. Empire State Development reports that “premier shops and restaurants will surround the Moynihan Train Hall.” Above that, there will be four floors of office space, with Facebook being the primary tenant.
Explore the Area
Train operations are kicking off on January 1, and it might be worth it to explore New York City’s new Amtrak hub.
In the area of both Penn Station and Moynihan Train Hall, there is a handful to do and see. The Vessel (or the Edge if you like heights) at Hudson Yards is just blocks away in a less than a mile walk. If you visit before the end of January, you might even be able to catch the holiday lights. In fact, there are a handful of special outdoor winter activities that New York City offers up during this time of year. One of which are the shops at Bryant Park. Bryant Park, about a mile in the other direction from Amtrak’s hub, holds a unique winter experience that isn’t worth missing.
If you’re interested in exploring a museum, the Museum of Modern Art is offering timed, limited entry tickets. In the vicinity, there is also the High Line, a popular 1.45-mile elevated linear park on a former freight rail line in the Meatpacking District, boasting eateries, shopping and conservation efforts.
The prime location of the Moynihan Train Hall also makes it easy to get to The Javits Center for special events, the Empire State Building for a birds-eye view of the city, and Macy’s Herald Square to shop at the Macy’s flagship store.
Looking for somewhere to eat? Within walking distance of the Moynihan Train Hall is the Pennsy Food Hall, located in the Penn Plaza. If everyone in your party is in the mood for something different to eat, this is the best place to go. The Pennsy has six different vendors inside offering everything from vegan options to Thai barbecue. Make sure to stop in at the bar for delicious cocktails and beers at reasonable prices.
Molly Wee Pub & Restaurant is also just around the corner. This joint was established in 1980 and is located at the corner of 30th St. and Eighth Ave. For almost 40 years it has been a fixture of New York City. They have both lunch and dinner specials everyday, so it doesn’t matter what time your train is coming in.