Some half a million commuters and visitors pass through Penn Station every weekday. They grapple with severe overcrowding, grim corridors and unpleasant public areas. The New York metropolitan region has endured this depressing state of affairs since the original Penn Station was demolished half a century ago to build Madison Square Garden.
But we don’t have to accept this situation permanently.
We have the opportunity to remake the much-maligned Penn Station into what we want it to be – a world-class transit hub. To achieve this goal, Madison Square Garden needs to be relocated.
The Garden was built 50 years ago under a time-limited special zoning permit that expired in January. The Garden has requested a new permit of infinite duration, but RPA and other civic groups are urging the City Planning Commission to restrict Madison Square Garden’s permit to operate in its current location to 10 years. This will give city, state and federal officials the time needed to relocate the Garden and make plans for a new Penn Station.
Regional Plan Association believes that New York deserves a world-class train station and a world-class arena.
Unlike transit hubs in other major cities, which attract visitors and support jobs and economic activity in their neighborhoods, Penn Station only draws people who have to be there. A station that should be a tremendous asset for New York City instead represents a historic mistake and an unrealized opportunity.
RPA, working together with Municipal Art Society and other civic leaders, has been making the case for a 10-year renewal of Madison Square Garden’s permit. On April 10, RPA President Robert Yaro testified before the City Planning Commission’s public hearing that a major transportation gateway and a major sports and entertainment venue can’t successfully share the same site.
All of us recognize the vital economic role Madison Square Garden plays in New York City and in our region. It would continue to do so at another location in Manhattan. But allowing Madison Square Garden to continue to operate on top of the most important train station in North America will prevent the fundamental transformation necessary to ensure that Penn Station becomes the train station we deserve.
Help Create a New Penn Station
The City Planning Commission will be accepting public comments on Madison Square Garden’s permit for the rest of this week. Please email or write to the City Planning Commission by this Friday, April 19, to make sure your voice is heard: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildcp.html.
City Planning Commission
Calendar Information Office - Room 2E
22 Reade Street, New York, N.Y. 10007
When you write, let the City Planning Commission know that: Madison Square Garden should not be permitted to operate at its current location in perpetuity as it has requested. Limiting the Garden’s permit to 10 years will allow the Garden to continue to operate and will give the city the opportunity to develop a plan to build a train station worthy of New York City. It also will provide the time and focus to develop a great modern arena in the right location.
This is a historic opportunity that cannot be missed. Thank you for joining this effort.