Penn Station Site Visit
Thursday 22nd, 8:00PM
The site is not how I think of Penn Station — it seemed surprising quiet that evening. The grand space in which many people stand looking up at the variable message boards was empty except for a few people. At this hour many of the shops were closed or closing. It was a little depressing, seemed lacking without the vibrancy of people, and the spaces are rather dull since there is no exterior presence within the building. Despite how empty it was there were still awkward social interactions I encountered, which I thought was very strange given the lack of people. For instance while standing in the grand concourse I couple stood right next to me in a large space that was empty. While walking through the halls people would brush by me as if there were a sea of other people and nowhere else to go. It was bizarre in my opinion but could have more to do with my own definition of personal space.
Friday 23rd, 5:00PM
This was the hell I am accustomed to at Penn Station. People are moving in every direction, there isn’t an obvious flow, something of which you would experience in an airport or a more well design transportation infrastructure. I believe this has something to do with the station signage which is extremely confusing. There were really interesting moments when people were waiting for their train to be called, but they were all standing in the middle of a corridor in which a sea of people are moving. There was an issue of program placement. Waiting areas are lacking and poorly located in relationship to platform entrances. The significant waiting space was only privileged to Amtrak travelers, the rest were standing where ever they could. It is oppressive or almost shady feeling, from not being able to see the platforms from the concourse. At other stations I have been through, I am accustomed to being able to see the platform at moments from waiting areas and what not, much like an airport, viewing out to the planes. This creates a sense of disconnect and anxiety due to a level of unknowing. When passengers finally have their train platform level announced it is a mad dash to the entrance, which causes major disruptions and crowding as well. The whole system and how it is managed seems to be a nightmare; an unpleasant experience for both passengers and employees of the station. Penn Station also seems to be a distilled version of some of the more egocentric New Yorker personalities, where it becomes abundantly clear it is every person for themselves. Users of the space seem aggressive as they maneuver through the relentless crowds. There is visible frustration.