Penn Station's summer of hell came and went without the many of the pains that commuters were anticipating. Now, the transit hub is making a different kind of upgrade: renovating its notoriously disgusting bathrooms.
The restrooms in Amtrak's portion of the station are the closest things New Yorkers can find to the shit-stained walls of Northern Island's HM Prison Maze made famous by Bobby Sands' 1981 hunger strike. Walking into one of them is like a punch in the face, and those in the know avoid them at all costs. But, like many of the promising developments coming to Penn Station, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
The New York Times reports that Amtrak executives plan to “refresh” those lavatories this fall and that they will be fixed up by the end of the year. We're not holding out for crews to turn the atrocious loos into those super fancy Bryant Park bathrooms, but at this point any kind of upgrade would be an improvement.
Slowly but surely, Penn Station is becoming a less miserable place for commuters. A new concourse opened earlier this year as part of the project to convert the James A. Farley Post Office building into Moynihan Station on the west side of Eighth Avenue. This week, Senator Chuck Schumer, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other local officials went to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to secure funding for the Gateway Program, which would construct two new tunnels under the Hudson River and lay the groundwork for finally fixing the station.
Then again, a fresh set of bathrooms won't make much of a difference if poop water keeps raining from the ceiling.