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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall – Manhattan

January sees the opening of the new railway terminal in New York City – the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall. Named in honour of a distinguished New York politician well before the Trump era – the new terminus fills the lengthy void created when Pennsylvania Station was demolished in the 1960s. New York City lost a classic landmark structure akin to the grandeur of Grand Central Station which is thankfully still with us as a result of public protest over redevelopment plans which would have seen this great railway terminal building also reduced to rubble in favour of bland commercial space.

Photo by Lucas Blair Simpson and Aaron Fedor

A former postal distribution centre fronting on to Eighth Avenue, also with grand structural features from the early part of the 20th Century – has been internally remodelled to create a marvellous high ceilinged space for travellers accessing Amtrak trains on the north east corridor services between Boston and Washington – and beyond.

Also announced at the beginning of this year is New York City’s intention to extend further the ‘HighLine’ pedestrian walkway on Manhattan’s west side from its initial starting point at what has been the centre for meat handling and distribution close to Greenwich Village. Using former railway trackage elevated structure – the ‘HighLine’ has become a centrepiece of urban regeneration complete with trees and foliage embedded along its route. The plans announced this week involve the elevated pedestrian structure being extended eastward to access the new Train Hall terminal building on Eighth Avenue, as well as further north along the edge of the Hudson River.

Having lived on the westside in New York in my early years of working in the city – I was personally familiar with the then dilapidated railway relics and westside roadway which allowed cycling along miles of waterfront looking out to New Jersey. The boldness and vision alongside inspiring political leadership and supportive private sector interests brought about these urban transformations – despite naysayers and the usual apathetic timeservers to be found on every public body.

Had the ambitions of the FHLT for Fleetwood’s waterfront been blessed with similar can do forthright political muscle – the story for the town’s future wellbeing could have been as equally positive (if perhaps on a more modest scale). At least seafront neighbours to the north at Morecambe grasped the nettle of bold ambition – securing a potent investment in their own ‘Eden Project’.

Blackpool of course lost its own grand railway terminal on Talbot Road - what could have been an eminent exhibition hall among other desirable uses. The present North Station concrete 1930s former ‘Excursion Platform Station’ remains as the town’s gateway for arriving visitors – with apologetic concrete welcoming blandness. Whether this third rate rail access can be somehow redeemed with the new Talbot Gateway expansion remains to be seen. Lessons can be learned by a visit to the Manhattan’s West Side for our planners – when travel is finally free from overhanging toxicity emanating from China.


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