Newark’s Old Penn Station Is Getting A $190 Million Spruce-Up


Hosannas greeted the current unveiling of brand name new Moynihan Practice Corridor, throughout the road from Penn Station in Manhattan. However who is aware of or cares in regards to the mundane improve that is occurring throughout the river at Newark Penn Station?

We do.

It was the legendary architectural agency of McKim, Mead & White that designed each Penn Stations — the one in Newark and the unique in New York. Collectively, they outline stylistic whiplash. The New York station, opened in 1910, embodied empire. It was stately and monumental and none-too-subtly referenced the Roman baths of Caracalla. We now have all cried over its passing, and rightly so, though most of us solely ever skilled it by the identical black and white photographs.

Then got here Newark Penn Station in 1935. The architects threw out their neoclassical playbook and went fashionable. The swagger of its Artwork Deco particulars ripple all through, from jazzy signal fonts to chrome steel entrances with ornate metalwork, to 800-pound chandeliers ringed with the indicators of the Zodiac assured prospers that convey movement and a really American sense of favor.

The primary ready corridor shouldn’t be solely 51 ft excessive, it holds a show that may be a transpo nerd’s delight: carved stone medallions depicting the historical past of American journey. It begins with Native Individuals in a canoe, strikes by Clipper ship and stagecoach, and ends with trains, planes, and vehicles. Above that may be a cerulean blue ceiling that an Amtrak weblog describes this fashion: “Down its size runs a large band of gilded wavy traces that present the sense of motion that’s so important to Artwork Deco design.”

Newark Penn Station waiting area


Courtesy of NJ Transit

The $190 million spruce-up of those parts, together with extra mundane issues akin to loos and lighting, has begun. David Abeles, NJ Transit’s basic superintendent of rail stations, lately walked the station with WNYC/Gothamist and identified fixes in progress, starting with the freshly cleaned and shined terrazzo flooring. “If the flooring shine, individuals are impressed,” he stated.

A bunch of different enhancements are scheduled for the following 5 years: upgrades to the heating, air-conditioning, and air flow programs, new tiling, higher drainage on the bus lanes, and a deep-cleaning of the station’s limestone exterior. There’s even a plan to enhance the legibility of the station’s sparse signage.

Newark Penn Station is NJ Transit’s largest of its 153 passenger amenities and the eighth largest practice station in North America. “It’s our most essential station and fairly actually a crossroads,” Abeles stated. It hosts visitors from Amtrak, the PATH Practice, and the company’s commuter rails. Earlier than Covid, 90,000 individuals coursed by Newark Penn Station on weekdays a quantity that’s nonetheless down by 80 %.

After dishing out these glum statistics, Abeles shortly returned to speaking about aesthetics.

light fixture


Courtesy of NJ Transit

“Newark Penn Station, it flies below the radar however it’s spectacular in its personal proper,” he stated, whereas standing close to the ready room’s seating space, which was taped off in preparation for repairs to its lengthy, curved, wood benches. “And in the event you look on the skin, there’s large rose granite arches, superbly carved, constructed with the grandeur that the Pennsylvania Railroad carried within the Nineteen Thirties.”

The Pennsylvania Railroad had acquired 600 rival traces by the point it had completed constructing Newark Penn Station in 1935, making it the most important company on the planet. This helps clarify why, confusingly, it named each of its main rail stops in Newark and New York “Penn Station.” As a result of it may.

ticket booth


Jim O’Grady / Gothamist / WNYC

“If it was a station on the Pennsylvania Railroad in a serious metropolis, it was known as ‘Penn Station,’” Abeles defined. However by the Seventies, the railroad had gone stomach up, its fortunes dimmed by the aforementioned planes and vehicles. Which is why I steered that NJ Transit rename the place after a New Jersey native, like Bruce Springsteen or Queen Latifah. Or possibly passengers want to hear this announcement whereas touring eastbound on the Gladstone Line: “Women and gents, the practice is now arriving in Newark ‘The Scenario’ Station.”

Sure? No? Barf?

“I can actually point out it to my bosses,” Abeles stated. “We’ll see the place that goes.”