Penn Station in NYC: The Ultimate Guide (with Map & Photos)

Pennsylvania Station (better known as Penn Station) is the busiest rail hub in North America; half a million passengers cross it every day. It serves three passenger rail lines: Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and Long Island Railroad. The station also connects to the New York City subway system, Penn Plaza, and Madison Square Garden, and is just a short walk from Herald Square in midtown Manhattan. There are a variety of food options at the station, most of which are take out.

Penn Station Train
Penn Station Train

History and future of Penn Station


The original Penn Station, heralded as a "pink marble architectural masterpiece," was built in 1910 and designed by the legendary McKim, Meade and White in the Beaux Arts style. For more than 50 years, New York's Penn Station was one of the busiest passenger train hubs in the country, but train travel dropped dramatically with the advent of the jet engine.

Penn Station Train
Penn Station Train

As a result, the underutilized Penn Station was demolished in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden and the newer, smaller Penn Station. The destruction of this New York architectural landmark caused outrage and is said to be the primary catalyst for many of New York's current landmark preservation statutes.

As of 2018, the construction of a new train station in the magnificent Farley Post Office building (a landmark also designed by McKim, Meade and White) is already underway. Under current plans, the state-of-the-art train station, to be christened Moynihan Station after former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, will move into the huge old mail sorting room of the Post Office once it restoration is complete.

Penn Station Train
Penn Station Train

Get there


The main entrance to Penn Station is located on 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, but there are also entrances through subway stations at 34th Street and 7th Avenue and at 34th Street and 8th Avenue. Penn Station is always open.

Penn Station is easily accessible by subway. Trains 1, 2 and 3 will take you directly to the station at the 34th street stop. The N, Q, R, B, D, F and M trains drop passengers on an avenue to the east at 34th street and avenue 6, right next to the Macys. The A, C and E trains will drop you on a west avenue at 34th Street and 8th Avenue, with underground access to Penn Station. The 7 train stops at 34th Street at Hudson Yards, which requires a bit of a walk to get to Penn Station. The M34 bus service is the only MTA city bus that connects directly to Penn Station.

All taxi and car services know how to get to Penn Station. Make sure to tell your driver exactly what service you are using (for example, Amtrak) so they can drop you off at the nearest entrance. The station is large and this will save you a lot of walking time.

On the upper level of the concourse, travelers can find New Jersey Transit and Amtrak routes, ticket offices, and some stores.

The lower level of the lobby houses the Long Island Rail Road ticket stations and tracks, as well as subway lines 1, 2, 3, A, C and E.

Fast food restaurants, delicatessens, and food stands line the lower level center corridor if you're looking for a muffin or cup of coffee. See more detailed information about each contest below.

Penn Station Train
Penn Station Train

Amtrak


Of all the stations that Amtrak uses, New York's Penn Station is the busiest. More than 10 million customers board an Amtrak station from this location each year. Popular destinations include Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Boston, but you can go as far as Chicago.

To get to the Amtrak station within Penn Station, merge onto 8th Avenue between West 31st and West 33rd streets. Easy-to-read signs will take you to the Amtrak Lounge. There is a 24-hour waiting room where those with a ticket can relax while waiting for their train. There is free Wi-Fi in the room, but there is no food or drink. Amtrak recommends arriving at the station at least 45 minutes before your train departs.

There is also a ticket counter and numerous self-service kiosks where you can purchase a ticket, retrieve a ticket you purchased online, and more. They are all centrally located, so you can't miss them. An easy way to navigate the space is to download the free Amtrak FindYourWay app available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Amtrak is currently building a new lounge to better serve its passengers. There will be a sunlit atrium (a great upgrade from the dark and musky space); a new ticketing and bagging area; a lounge; a waiting room reserved for the client; and more retail and food stores. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Long Island Railroad


The Long Island Railroad (called the LIRR by locals) is a commuter rail system that runs through the southwestern part of New York State. It runs from Manhattan to the eastern tip of Suffolk County on Long Island. Many people use it to get to the Hamptons, as well as the Jamaica Station, where you can access John F. Kennedy Airport via the AirTrain.

There is no specific LIRR waiting room, but the LIRR ticket counter, kiosks, and platforms are located near the Seventh Avenue station entrance between 32nd and 34th streets. There are several ticket counters and stations. Self-service where you can buy your ticket, but they can get very crowded, especially on Fridays and during the summer months or holidays. It is advisable to purchase your ticket in advance on the LIRR website.

LIRR does not advertise its platforms in advance, so there can sometimes be a rush to get on a train once the platform is announced. Stay calm and know that there are plenty of seats for everyone.

New Jersey Transit


New Jersey Transit (known as NJ Transit) is a public transportation line that serves the state of New Jersey, as well as parts of New York State and Pennsylvania. It makes local stops, and many New Yorkers use it to travel to the Newark or Philadelphia airports.

To access NJ Transit trains, enter Penn Station at Seventh Avenue and 31st Street or Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street. Signs will direct you to the NJ Transit ticketing office as well as the platforms. There is no waiting room for these trains, and the waiting area can be quite crowded and hectic. It is advisable to buy your ticket in advance on the website and then find a good place in a cafe to wait. Alternatively, there are lockers and vending machines located throughout the lobby.

Access to Madison Square Garden


Madison Square Garden is one of the premier concerts and events in New York City. You can see everything from famous musicians to live hockey there. It's located right above Penn Station, and you can get to the garden without even going outside.

Take the 1, 2, 3, A, C or E trains to 34th Street Penn Station and follow the signs for the Madison Square Garden subway. If you are in Penn Station, just follow the signs to these subway stations and then follow the signs to Madison Square Garden.

Where to eat and drink


Are you hungry while waiting for your train? Penn Station hasn't always been known for its food options, but now there are some fun options.

  • One of Penn Station's new and best additions is The Pennsy NYC, a high-class food hall located at the top of the station. Vendors serve artisan tacos, pizzas, salads, sliders, even sushi. There is a delicious cocktail and wine bar to make your travel day even more enjoyable.
  • For one of the best burgers in town, look no further than Shake Shack. It is located in the lower lobby of Penn Station. If you're in a rush, you can even download the Shake Shack app and order ahead. Don't leave without a smoothie and fries to go.
  • If you are in the mood for sushi, Wasabi Sushi & Bento prepares high-quality sandwiches to go. It is located on the lobby level of the plaza and is open from 7:30 am to 11:30 pm Monday through Sunday. Sushi for breakfast anyone?
  • For a fresh sandwich, head to Pret A Manger. It is located next to the LIRR esplanade. It has salads and bowls along with sandwiches.

Penn Station Tips and Facts


  • The most important advice we can give is: buy your ticket online in advance. It will save you a lot of time and hassle. Lines can get very long at this station, so avoid them where you can.
  • Make sure you use the correct entrance to get to your train. It will save you a lot of time and prevent you from walking in circles around the station.
  • Find a seat in coffee shops or restaurants. They are much more comfortable than waiting in the hallway or lobbies (there are limited public seating and the only other option is the floor).
  • Interesting fact: Architect Louis Kahn passed away in one of the men's rooms at Penn Station in 1974.
  • Fun fact: More people pass through Penn Station per day than New York City's three airports combined.
  • History buffs will be glad to know that parts of the original Penn Station still remain, from statues to small tiles to an iron partition of the waiting room. Tours are guided tours available to show you all original parts.

Pennsylvania Station Map