The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Just in time for the holidays…

…and the busy travel season, comes this elegantly crafted ode to one of the ugliest places on earth, New York’s Pennsylvania Station:

Don’t stop to contemplate, if you’re there — you’ll be trampled. This holiday season, the quicker you shove your fellow passengers, the quicker you can shove off from Aunt Gladys’s. Find an exit — there are plenty of exits, which is one of the many underappreciated features of this completely unappreciated anti-landmark — and get out fast.

There. Where are you? You are in New York.

The city beneath our city is a delightfully ill-lighted, incomprehensibly organized, low-ceilinged, viewless labyrinth. Harried people surge through its concourses and tunnels in perpendicular lines, mean salmon in puffy coats going always upstream. Soldiers with combat weapons lurk outside the city’s most unhygienic group lavatories. There is nowhere to sit.


Ah, New York. Those who’ve visited Penn Station — or, more likely, run through it on the way to someplace else — know how accurate that is. Read more.

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posted November 23, 2010 at 10:33 am

This is so amusing! Growing up in New Jersey, I can remember being terrified of Penn Station as a small child–it’s overwhelming (and a little bit smelly!). There are indeed endless crowds, rushing around like mad, creating a claustrophobia in what is ironically a very vast space. There are tons of new nooks and crevices that I stumble upon each time (as I try desperately to catch my train, of course).
But isn’t Penn Station a small reflection of the city itself? New York is chaotic, overwhelming, and seems to possess endless spaces to explore. And yes, it is also a bit smelly! Most importantly though, the faults that people hold against New York City is paradoxically responsible for a lot of its charm. Graffiti, garbage on the streets, foul language–these things in part DEFINE New York, a place that I could not love more.
And with that same sentiment in mind, I have come to appreciate the faults of Penn Station as well. When I walk in, I barely even notice the bad lighting or low ceilings. To me, Penn Station is far from an abomination. Instead, it’s a reminder of my childhood visits to the Big Apple; it’s portal into madness; and ultimately, it’s an extension of one of the greatest cities in the world!

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Kenny R

posted November 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Typical New York attitude-complaining about everything. Having used Penn Station for over thirty years-both Amtrak and LIRR-I have found that it always served my needs.

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