Architecture Design Transit Urban Planning

Moynihan Train Hall

The main waiting hall.

The new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station opened to the public yesterday. It’s a project that was decades in the making.

I’ve been following the saga of the Farley Building redevelopment ever since I was an urban planning grad student in the late 90s and it’s a real thrill to finally see it in person. Frankly, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen in my lifetime.

Replacing Penn Station with Farley was a dream that had a perfectly poetic arc: Penn Station died so that Grand Central Terminal could be saved, then was reincarnated decades later in Farley, the adjacent McKim, Mead, and White palace that was spared Penn’s fate. All credit to Senator Moynihan, the project’s longtime sponsor and advocate.

No, the Moynihan Train Hall isn’t quite the full-on transformation of Penn Station that many urbanists had hoped for, But it’s a very good first step towards the goal of truly modernizing the infrastructure and operations at Penn.

Love seeing stairs from the platform that open into this huge space. It’s very OG Penn Station.

The location west of Eighth Avenue feels a bit lopsided today, but it points to the future of the Midtown CBD: westward expansion to Hudson Yards. In a decade or two, it’ll feel more central as the inevitable development happens around it.

I visited the site in 2017 before construction started but haven’t been back since. I only had 30 minutes today to check it out and was very pleasantly surprised at what I saw.

This is a nice clock and surprisingly subtle.
I really like these benches, which are a nod to the past without feeling overly retro. I just wish there were in the hall itself, not just the restricted waiting areas.
A nice transition to the West End Concourse and Eighth Avenue. I hope it ages well.
I think this is good v1 digital signage, but I’m hoping the designers will push further in later iterations. These are big, bright screens with lots of potential.
It’s easy to miss the mid-block arcade unless you’re headed to points west of the station but I’m glad the space doesn’t feel like an afterthought.

The 32 Street mid-block entrance is very nice. I love the artwork.

I’m looking to coming back and exploring more soon.

Chinatown Self-Portraits Uncategorized Urban Planning

Car Free Mott Street

Enjoying a rare car-free Mott Street.

(Chinatown, Manhattan)

Urban Planning

New Times Square

Even though the first part of the permanent Times Square pedestrian plaza only opened today, it feels like it’s always been there. That’s the sign of a great plan.

Cycling Urban Planning

To Each His Own (Lane)

I’m a regular user of the First Avenue bike lane in Manhattan and I love it. It’s by no means perfect — there’s still too much pedestrian dodging required in the East Village and Upper East Side — but it’s a huge step towards a safer and better use of that very wide avenue.

These days, my favorite stretch of the lane is the segment in front of the United Nations. The urban planner in me just loves how the bike lane merges beautifully with the vehicular lanes on the south end of the First Avenue tunnel, taking you comfortably past an area that used to be tricky for cycling. As an added bonus, there’s also now a Citi Bike station directly across the street from the Secretariat Building.

The only improvement I can think of would be giving one lane of the tunnel to bikes if cycle traffic one day warrants it. I’d love to see that in my lifetime.

Urban Planning

610 Loop

I’m always a little excited when I visit a city with a ring road, probably because NYC doesn’t have a true one. (Sorry, 287 doesn’t count.) In Houston, 610 is the inner loop.

My relatives here all live outside the core, so this road is a part of virtually every car trip we take when I visit. I love looking out into the distance of this super-wide thoroughfare. It may not represent the best urban planning, but it’s a mesmerizing sight for a New Yorker.

Chinatown Urban Planning

Kenmare Street DMZ

If there’s one place that always makes me a little worried about the future of Chinatown, it’s Kenmare Street between Mott and Elizabeth.

Here at the very northern edge of what you’d consider Chinatown, you can see the neighborhood’s past — and its potential future. On a low-key street mostly known for traffic coming from the Williamsburg Bridge, new luxury apartments bump-up against working-class walk-ups.

What’s next? I don’t know if anyone really knows. Gentrification may be an unstoppable force, but that doesn’t mean its impacts on neighborhoods are identical. I’m watching eagerly to see how Chinatown handles it.

City Life Cycling Transit Urban Planning

Coming soon: Citi Bike

I’m really excited about Citi Bike and I think it has the potential to greatly change the way New Yorkers get around. The stations are going up now and the bikes come next month. Check it out, New York!

Chinatown City Life Transit Urban Planning

This Station Needs a Hachikō

Flushing’s LIRR Main Street station is very lightly used compared with its nearby subway station, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve some sprucing up.

My recommendation, in all seriousness, is to put a dog on it. Just like how putting a bird on something can make it art in Portland, putting a Hachikō at a transit entrance can elevate an otherwise utilitarian space into something much more inviting. Maybe even inspirational.

A cat would be okay, too.

Transit Urban Planning

Seward Park

After Years of Delay, a Lower East Side Gap Is Ready to Be Filled” from today’s New York Times:

For decades, advocates of affordable housing sparred with residents of the powerful Grand Street co-ops, who preferred more market-rate housing and commercial uses for the site. The new agreement splits the difference, calling for 1,000 new units of housing, half of which will be permanently affordable. The 500 affordable units will be a mix of housing for seniors, and low- to moderate-income housing for families earning from 60 to 165 percent of the area’s median income.

This is exciting news. Curious to see what will happen below this site, which I covered for MTA with my late colleague Peter Hine in 2011:

Chinatown City Life Urban Planning

A New Chinatown Uptown?

From “Chinese Moving to East Harlem in a Quiet Shift From Downtown” in today’s New York Times:

It also thrust into violent relief an otherwise hidden demographic change in East Harlem: The population of Asian residents, mostly Chinese, has quietly ballooned in the last decade, doubling in the southern part of the neighborhood and tripling in the north, according to census figures.

I moved to Central Harlem from Brooklyn four-and-a-half years ago. I love my current digs, but I missed the convenient access to Chinatown that I had when living on the Q train, which passed through the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown.

I used to eat and shop in Chinatown at least once a week; now it’s more like once a month. I miss the cheap and tasty restaurants, the cheap and fresh groceries, the easy availability of the “ying yang” tea/coffee drink I’m addicted to.

Given how Chinatowns have sprouted up around NYC, I’ve been hoping that new one would grow in Harlem or the South Bronx. If this article is accurate, it looks like it might finally be happening.

Eating Transit Urban Planning

Not A Moment Too Soondubu

So after two days of feeling blue because congestion pricing died and trying to console myself, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

That’s right — I actually made soondubu for the first time, following a recipie I found online.

The verdict? Passable, but not nearly as good as Seoul Garden’s extra spicy combo. I’ll keep trying, and hopefully so will those in favor of congestion pricing.

(Bklyn Blggng HQ)

Eating Transit Urban Planning

Consolation Prize

I’m bummed that congestion pricing died in the State Assembly today, I’m trying to cheer myself up be focusing on things that give me pleasure, like the combo tofu stew with the side order of short ribs at Seoul Garden.

Ah, I feel a little better already. A little, anyway.

(Seoul Garden, 32 St, Manhattan)

Architecture Transit Urban Planning


Although it looks like my iPhone’s resolution just dipped south of a PXL’s, the truth is I shot this scene of Ground Zero through a fence.

(WTC PATH Station, Manhattan)

City Life Transit Urban Planning

What Price Congestion?

NYC needs congestion pricing. I hope the New York State Legislature does the right thing this week and passes it.

(53 St & 6 Av, Manhattan)

City Life Urban Planning

Cortlandt Alley

I love Manhattan, but sometimes I wish the the folks behind the grid included alleys in their plan. Alleys are mysterious and banal, hella useful and a waste of space. They’re everything that happens in your living room before the guests arrive.

(Cortlandt Alley, Manhattan)