Pennsylvania Station in New York City is the pits. It's claustrophobic, confusing to navigate, has really terrible retail, and smells like a potent mixture of Cinnabon and a businessman's flop sweat. For over 20 years, New York's political leadership have tried to give the transit hub, which services 10 million passengers a year and is the nation's busiest, a little spit and polish, but to no avail.
The latest attempt is being spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced his plan Tuesday. His big idea? Rebranding!
At Cuomo event, Vornado CEO Steve Roth arrived. New name proposed? "The New Empire Station Complex" on stage https://t.co/FLMMIaqElo— Andrew Tangel (@AndrewTangel) January 6, 2016
Is Penn Station changing its name? "The New Empire Complex." pic.twitter.com/W1XHaJbDFg— Kate Hinds (@katehinds) January 6, 2016
Clearly the governor's image makers decided the name "Penn Station" was too synonymous with train delays, dank lighting, and angry crowds of commuters. Unfortunately the name they came up with to replace it, the New Empire Station Complex, has its own sinister connotations, as noted by the AP's Jonathan Lemire.
"Empire Station Complex" feels very Star Wars-ish (and destined to be destroyed by Rebels) https://t.co/tQop4iEwHx— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) January 6, 2016
Can't you just see Grand Moff Tarkin — or I guess General Hux, since The Force Awakens is the new touchstone — overseeing the Penn Station redevelopment from some shadowed balcony, boasting about how he will soon "demonstrate the full power of this station"?
Of course, the "full power" of Cuomo's Empire Station Complex involves moving the Amtrak waiting area from its current subterranean location under Madison Square Gardens to the much grander old Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue. This would free up space to sufficiently redevelop the concourses of New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.
It's a much needed endeavor, especially if it commences in conjunction with Amtrak's Gateway project to build an additional train tunnel under the Hudson River to replace the current 105-year-old one — a project cited by infrastructure experts of all stripes as the most important construction project in the country.
This is about the third time a New York politician has proposed redesigning Penn Station. Previous attempts were made by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo. But hey, the Galactic Empire didn't let anyone stop them from building three Death Stars! And I'm sure Cuomo would find the lack of faith among his doubters disturbing.