Editor's Note

Editor’s Note: Penn Station art promises to ‘energize’ trips through the transit hub

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $22 billion redevelopment plan should do the same for the rest of the station and the area.

The Amtrak waiting area at Penn Station last week featured transit art by Saya Woolfalk.

The Amtrak waiting area at Penn Station last week featured transit art by Saya Woolfalk. Ralph Ortega

An art exhibit at Penn Station sponsored by Amtrak recruits artists from New York and New Jersey to create original art just for the transit hub. Currently on display are digital prints cast on vinyl adhesive film for an exhibit called “Empathic Universe” by Saya Woolfalk. Prominent in the exhibit is a green, shaded figure against a backdrop of scenes from nature, among other images that have a psychedelic vibe.

Amtrak says the program aims to “energize trips through the Western Hemisphere’s busiest train station in the most creative city in the world.” Regardless of one’s taste for art, those inspiring words should also resonate with the state as it moves forward with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $22 billion redevelopment plan for the station and its surrounding neighborhood. The project, which includes a renovated and expanded station, ten new skyscrapers and eight acres of open space in the area, had its funding plan approved by the state Public Authorities Control Board last week.

Opponents still say the project falls short. Sam Turvey, chair of ReThinkPennStationNYC and co-coordinator of the Empire Station Coalition, called for moving Madison Square Garden and building in its current location an above ground station. It would be reminiscent of the original lost to the wrecking ball in that same space in the 1960s. A lack of vision then created the dark and cramped conditions which Penn is known for today.

For now, there’s at least a plan that promises major progress. Hopefully, the final outcome will “energize” trips through Penn, borrowing inspiration from transit art that was meant to do the same.