Travel review: New York Penn Station

New York Penn station was my and dad’s first introduction to Manhattan on our first visit to the Big Apple. To keep costs down, we stayed at a hotel near Newark Airport and took the New Jersey transit train to Penn station, a 25 minute journey

Firstly, to my non-USA readers, this station is huge, occupying several city blocks and spread over several floors. It can be hard to get your orientation as to which exit to head for but its bounded by 7th Ave to the east, 8th Ave to the west, 31st St to the south and 33rd street to the north. The signposting is generally good within the station though dad and I found that the odd route to some subway lines does suddenly disappear

Next fact to note is that the whole station is underground, so you won’t be able to spot it by any grand external facade. However, sitting on top of it is iconic Madison Square Gardens, so just aim for that instead 

 Amtrak own the station and run intercity services along the east coast. Commuter services are run by New Jersey Transit to the west and Long Island Railroad to the east. The first time dad and I travelled back to Newark Airport from here, we started panicking as we couldn’t see any trains to the airport on the departure boards. We then discovered that each of the 3 train companies using the station have their own separate departure area, so you have to get to your train company’s departure area to look at their departure boards

 The station also has great subway links. The 1, 2, 3 lines and the A, C, E lines run from opposite ends of the station, offering decent links to the comprehensive subway network

There is a large array of eateries, mainly featuring fast food but the freshly cooked breakfasts are usually good value if not exactly gourmet. There are other retail shops like pharmacies littered across the various floors

 The train experience itself is functional at best though the punctuality record would put British train companies to shame. The trains are one floor down from the departure and arrival floor. There aren’t many escalators, which means carrying luggage up and down stairs

 Penn Station is an efficient transport hub. It’s not as pretty as New York’s Central station but dad and I have fond memories of our adventures in New York starting here

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