NEW YORK - "Dad always said the greatest single act of vandalism in the history of New York was the destruction of Penn Station in 1963," Maura Moynihan said. "This is really a miracle."

What You Need To Know

  • The original Pennsylvania Station was demolished in 1963

  • In the 1990s, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wanted to make the Beaux-Arts styled James A. Farley Post Office the new home of Penn Station

  • The new Moynihan Train Hall is part of Gov. Cuomo's larger vision to renovate and expand Penn Station, calling it the Empire Station Complex

Her dad is the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who died in 2003.

His vision was to turn the James A. Farley Post Office, which was designed in the same grand Beaux-Arts style as the old, demolished Pennsylvania Station, into a new transit hub.

Nearly three decades since he sought to turn that dream into reality, a new waiting area and shopping center, for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road commuters, will open Jan. 1, inside the Farley building.

It is named in Moynihan's honor.

"It certainly does make me miss my father and I wish he was here, but now he is here," Moynihan said. "He's going to be with us, forever because of the station."

The $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall will connect to Amtrak and Long Island Railroad trains, and give commuters a new entrance on Ninth Avenue.

It will also have a 92-foot-high skylight.

At 255,000 square feet, it will increase concourse space by 50%.

The Penn Station travelers of Amtrak, LIRR and New Jersey Transit know today - cramped, dingy, and, before the pandemic, crowded.

Maura Moynihan, after her father's death, advocated for a new train hall, as an alternative to Penn Station.

"It's hideous and it's a trauma just to go through it. I just thought, it was very important to get this done," Moynihan said.

Commuters agree.

"It's crazy. There's hundreds of thousands of people that come every single day, rush hour is always nuts," Long Island commuter Stephanie Iannello said. "The expansion is just gonna make it so much better for all commuters from Long Island, down over in Jersey, across New York City, I just think it'll be such a better location for us to come and less hectic."

Supporters of Moynihan Train Hall say commuters will walk an extra avenue to the new waiting area, to avoid spending any more time in Penn Station than is necessary.

"They'll see a place where they can breath and not feel claustrophic like they do in the existing station and just have a much more pleasurable waiting experience when they need to hang out before their train," Brian Fritsch, Regional Plan Association's advocacy campaign manager, said.

"He would be so excited by the combination of preserving our past and envisioning a creative future and the fusion of the two," she said. "Because, isn't that what makes New York so exciting?"