The Next Penn Station

“The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way
Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay”*

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Madison Square Garden. Believe it or not, concerts are held & the Rangers and Knicks play on the 5th Floor, Penn Station is in the basement.

I’m a lifelong NY Rangers fan. I was at Games 1 and 5 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals at MSG, and yes, I also was at the unforgettable Game 7, June 14, 1994, when the Rangers won the Cup for the first time in those forgettable 54 years, the first time they ever won it at home. My seat was right above the guy with the famous “NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE” sign. Oh, I know how he felt- Having been a Rangers fan for more than half of those 54 years to that point, It may have been the greatest experience of my entire lifetime.

I convinced the company I worked for to get Ranger Season Tickets for a few years after that.

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MSG does not pay to advertise on Nighthawk.NYC, so I had to replace their ads. I think it looks much better now, right?

I was also a Knicks fan during the Frazier-Willis Reed years, and saw one playoff game by that Championship Team at MSG, still, the greatest basketball team I’ve ever seen. Additionally, I’ve seen many many concerts at MSG by Prince, Elvis Costello, Radiohead, the Rolling Stones, Yes, Miles Davis, Lady GaGa, Blondie and Morrissey, himself.

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Morrissey @MSG June 27, 2015. One of the most recent unforgettable moments I’ve had there.

The Garden has been a big part of my life.

All of that, the fact that the Knicks are headed back up (which will result in more popularity & attention), and the billion dollars the Dolans spent to renovate the Garden1(while somehow paying $0 to the City in Property Taxes) stand on one side.

“Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away”*

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MSG Renovations, in progress here, included new periphery lighting and huge new advertising billboards, only partly installed here. Renovations to Penn Station? $0

The countless thousands of others who commute or travel through Penn Station every single day stand on the other.

For me? This is a no brainer.

As NYC debates what to do about that pathetic transit hub called “Penn Station,” which used to be the name of one of the glories of American Architecture (on the same location), before some genius decided to tear it all down, let’s not be shortsighted, again, or yield to big money.

“Half my life
Is books, written pages
Live and learn from fools and
From sages”*

There is only ONE choice here-

Do What Is Best for the commuters and travelers, FIRST and Last. That’s an investment in helping to keep NYC great, as well as a step towards bringing transportation here into the 21st Century. Then, when the best plan for that has been determined? Put MSG on the next best option.

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The Farley Post Office (right), across 8th Avenue from the current MSG, could be where the “next” MSG goes, though it’s landmark status may be a problem.

Sorry, Dolans- MSG is an AFTERTHOUGHT in this discussion, NOT the priority.

End of story.

Right now, there seems to be no clear vision. Some steps are in progress, however, with the construction currently underway of Moynihan Station in part of said Farley Post Office, as seen today-

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“Raise the curtain and show them what they’ve won!” It’s the entrance to the New Moynihan Station, the new Amtrak Station, at the Farley Post Office, across the street from MSG, Jan 28, 2016.

But there remains no concrete overriding plan that “solves” the bigger problem. Governor Cuomo’s proposal doesn’t sound like “it” to me.

First, we need to make that choice I just outlined to fix mass transit. Period. Then, create the best urban design plan that facilitates it best. THEN put MSG on the next best location 2. Penn Station needs to be a focus, not an afterthought “shoehorned” into MSG as the Governor’s plan tries to do. They are two separate structures on two different sites in my opinion. The chance exists to do something defining & wonderful here. A chance we had and failed to seize at Ground Zero, and more recently in Brooklyn. It is another chance to define NYC for the 21st Century. Yes, whatever we build will “define” the City going forward. Why not build something GREAT for the “Greatest City In The World,” (to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda)?

Will we seize that chance and do something Great with it? I’m not holding my breath. I don’t see the leader with the guts to overrule the special interests and push something magical AND every bit as functional as we desperately need through.

So? I’m left to Dream On….

While I’m dreaming…If we were going to build something new AND Great? I STRONGLY suggest we beg 3 Frank Gehry to design it, then leave him alone to do it. Gehry, America’s greatest living architect, who’s father lived in Hell’s Kitchen, in the very shadow of MSG & the Farley Post Office, has created masterpieces that have helped put even Bilbao, Spain on the map. If he’s creating this in Las Vegas, isn’t it about time we got a masterpiece from him to help define NYC for the 21st Century?

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Gehry’s Lou Ruvo Center, Las Vegas. Not a train station, though it’s located on “Grand Central Pkwy.” Check out their site to see it at night. Exterior & Interior photos courtesy of Jane In Las Vegas. Thanks, Jane!

“Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true”*

Ok…next problem. Do I hear anyone say-

“What about that other transit disaster, and monstrosity, a few blocks north known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal?”

Maybe we could get a “deal” on both from Mr. Gehry? My brain glosses over orgasmically thinking about how amazing that could be.4

Remember to thank me later. After I wake up.

*-Soundtrack for this post is “Dream On” by Steven Tyler and recorded by Aerosmith on their 1973 self-titled debut album. Published by BMG Rights Management US.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

  1. MSG looks great inside. The exterior is now a mess, in my opinion.
  2. The Voice makes mention of the $300 Million in tax breaks MSG has received the past 30 years, thanks to Ed Koch…and counting. Well? Since they no doubt invested that money well they could possibly build the new MSG from the proceeds, and given the bull market the past 8 years, might be able to build it without even touching the principle! If ANY public official turns around and gives them MORE tax breaks now? SERIOUSLY?
  3. which we may have to after he got jerked around so badly in Brooklyn. That turned out so well, hasn’t it?
  4. Keep in mind the NY Times building, across from the Port Authority, came THIS close to being a Gehry. I shed a tear every time I walk past it.