New York City

New York's $4 Billion Train Station: In 100 Years, Will Anyone Still Care About All That Wasted Money?

New York magazine's Andrew Rice defends Santiago Calatrava's "glorious boondoggle." Here's what he gets wrong.

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The World Trade Center Transportation Hub |||

Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub in lower Manhattan, dubbed "the world's most expensive train station," will cost $4 billion, or roughly double the price tag sold to the public when the project was first announced 11 years ago. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the public agency in charge of the project, has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on ill-advised construction contracts and lousy planning.

A new essay by Andrew Rice in New York magazine, "The Glorious Boondoggle," argues that none of this matters so much because it's a phenomenal structure—"No recent addition to the cityscape has aspired to combine public utility and aesthetic daring to the same degree"—and eventually we'll all forget about the wasted money. Rice approvingly quotes architect Daniel Libeskind:

Someday…people will revel in Calatrava's creation and the controversies will be forgotten. "Bernini, most people don't know, built a tower at the Vatican that collapsed," he says. "He had such a failure he thought his career would never recover. Now we look back at Bernini and say, 'wow, what an architect.' So, look, you have to give it time."

New York is indeed filled with worthwhile infrastructure project that were scandals in their own time. Is anyone still pissed that Tammany Hall embezzled millions during the construction of the Tweed Courthouse, which stands a few blocks from the World Trade Center Transportation Hub? It dominated the headlines for a period in the 1870s; today the building's considered a treasure.

But Rice doesn't dwell on how all that money otherwise could have been spent. It's no wonder that we're more apt to appreciate the public infrastructure that exists than to mourn the unnamed projects and initiatives that never came to fruition because of lousing planning and government ineptitude.

Rather than a $4 billion train station, wouldn't it have been better for the Port Authority to build out an actual train? The city's $2.4 billion extension of the number 7 train is also scandalously expensive, but at least it's the sort of project that makes the city more habitable and creates conditions for private developers to build grand structures. We could have gotten almost two of those instead of the station.

Or, taxpayers could have held on to those funds and spent them in ways invisible to the rest of us but also of benefit to future generations.

For more on the World Trade Center rebuilding saga, check out this Reason TV video Kennedy and I made back in 2012:

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  1. I don’t know what that is in the picture. But, if I were to design a structure in which birds shit on people hundreds of times a day, it would look something like that.

    1. It looks like a hair clipper attachment. Maybe a salon?

      1. Good. I need my tips frosted.

        1. Just the tips?

          1. Just doing the tips gives your hair some texture and depth. Besides, his pubes aren’t that long.

      2. A giant vulva.

        1. Smoother than a veal cutlet.

      3. I see the same thing.

        Is there a scrunchy train platform?

        1. If not, I’m sure Frank Gehry will be along shortly to design one.

      4. That was my first reaction, too.

        The sculpture in front of the Daley Center is equally unimpressive, Picasso or not, but it has been immortalized and made into true art by its appearance in the greatest musical of all time.

        1. +1 tail feather. Shaken, not stirred.

    2. all I see is a giant vagina.

      1. And what about the tower next to it? What do you see there?

      2. I think this is what Postrel was alluding too.

        1. She likes vagina?

  2. Oh, well, if Daniel Libeskind approves, it must be good. Have you seen the abominations this guy creates?

    1. The Liebkinds of the world think they know their architects and painters well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irCY487cM30

    2. He was kind of a laughingstock around here after “winning” the WTC replacement competition, his plan was so ugly.

    3. Bent walls waste space.

  3. It’s like we are living in one of Ayn Rand’s fever dreams. Seriously why is always trains?

    1. The progs in New Hampshire want to spend $300 million to build a train from Manchester to Boston. Not doing so, according to our governor is “looking inward”. So if you dont’ embrace 1800’s technology, you are backwards and insular.

      1. Jesus that is fucking retarded.

        1. Oh it is. You know the $300 million construction cost would at least double.

          Their projections assume ridership that no commuter rail in the world achieves, but run a $3 million dollar a year operating loss. This is from Supporters of the plan.

          It’s as if every other boondoggle of a rail project simply doesn’t exist

          1. One can only hope the Free Staters can put the kibosh on this.

            1. +1 Porcupine

          2. If it costs a state an average well above $300 million to build a website, then there’s no way they’ll build a railway for that.

      2. I keep reading about how air ships have unbelievable lifting capacity. Instead of trains, why doesn’t someone start an air ship service from Manchester to Boston? You could put hundreds of people in a single airship and have point to point service from Manchester to downtown Boston with no need to build tracks or anything.

        1. Not enough cronies to feed.

          1. Indeed. Train projects are not for transportation of the proles. They are mechanisms to channel money to your cronies. $300 million is alot of coin for the shysters in New Hampshire to spread around.

        2. Zeppelins, man, zeppelins. Everywhere. Carrying cargo, passengers, commercial drones (and consumer inventory), even defensive platforms. The skies full of zeppelins.

        3. Oh the humanity!

          1. That’s right, the other bonus to mass use of zeppelins is epic disasters, which will contribute jobs to the economy. Assuming we use hydrogen. Helium is too scarce a commodity, after all.

      3. You know, as a resident of Manchester, I have always decried the 55 minutes or so it takes me to reach Boston by car. I’ve always wanted to add 15 minutes of boarding and exiting time on that trip, as well as the couple of minutes it would take me to get to the train station. I live near the tracks, you see.

        1. That’s your car-owner privilege speaking.

          1. Look, if you’re asking me for a ride to the train station, I’ve made it abundantly clear: Ass or Grass.

  4. Pyramids…New York City needs pyramids. I’m sure everyone north of Hyde Park will be happy to pay for them, even work on them if lashed enough.

    1. Jesus Christ, could you imagine how much money building a pyramid in modern day New York would cost? All the union labor, red tape, lawyer fees, environmental impact studies.

      1. Use prison labor, and state that the pyramid is being built as a shrine to the millions to die from global warming.

    2. Las Vegas has a New-York styled casino. Now New York needs a Las Vegas pyramid! Build a Luxor replica in Central Park!

    3. Memphis had one sitting unused for the last 10 years or so, could have gotten a great price on a fixer-upper, but it finally got the Bass Pro Shop megastore that is so obviously what a pyramid should be used for.

      1. I went to see KISS live there (as a joke on the behest of someone who loved them as a kid). Terrible venue. Should be torn down.

        1. And that was in the mid 90s only a few years after it was built. I can’t imagine how shitty it is now.

    4. It will all be under water in 10 years anyway.

      1. ooo, good point. Whenever the Democrat pols in NYC want to build something in Lower Manhattan, I wish someone would bring that up. Every single time. “But! You can’t build that in Battery Park! It’ll be underwater in 10 years!”

  5. What difference now at this point, does it make?

  6. Someday?people will revel in Calatrava’s creation and the controversies will be forgotten. “Bernini, most people don’t know, built a tower at the Vatican that collapsed,” he says. “He had such a failure he thought his career would never recover. Now we look back at Bernini and say, ‘wow, what an architect.’ So, look, you have to give it time.”

    Okay guys the Sistine Chapel wasn’t built in a day.

    1. “When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.”

      1. “She’s got HUGE tracts of land.”

        1. “But Mother-”
          “I’m your father!”
          “But Father-“

  7. No. But in a hundred years people will still care that they tore down The Beau Arts masterpiece that was the old Penn Station to build the abomination known as Madison Square Garden.

    1. Whatever, bro. You’re just jealous of the World’s Most famous Arena.

      $1b in renovations and they couldn’t bother to figure out decent sight lines for the upper deck. I just don’t get Ranger fans.

      1. It is the world’s most overrated arena inhabited by the two most overrated professional franchise in sports. If it wasn’t for the New York media pretending the Knicks and Rangers are anything but the second rate franchises they are, MSG would be known for rock concerts and the yearly dog show.

      2. They don’t have a lot of choice. Well, actually they have two other choices but TEAM!!! and all that effin’ crap.

        1. In fairness, Brooklyn is douche bag city and no one wants to go to Newark. The arena and the teams suck, but at least the neighborhood is good.

          1. And better uniforms. But that’s about it.

  8. New game – throwing shit at those spiky things and seeing who can impale the most objects.

    1. What a trendy piece of shit that is going to turn out to be. In a hundred years it will either have been bulldozed for the aesthetic good of the city or be seen as just one more example of how the world went full retard in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

      1. Bingo. In 100 years, there’s going to be something else there, would be my bet.

        1. Well, that is the New York way. When I go back to my old neighborhood I’m amazed every time at how much shit has changed. It’s just in constant upheaval.

          1. “When I go back to my old neighborhood I’m amazed….”

            A) That no one recognizes you now that you’ve outgrown your youthful awkwardness?
            B) That the disguise you made still works?
            C) That your tunnel and interconnected basement system hasn’t collapsed?
            D) How everyone in New York City has their price?
            E) At the huge [*makes appropriate hand gestures*] tracts of land?

            1. Syphilis has rotted off his nose and driven him mad.

            2. B! No…D! Um, I just can’t make up my mind.

            3. When my dad was in his 60’s, he went back to see his childhood home.

              It was gone, of course, as were most of the houses on the street. He was surveying the scene when he heard someone call his name.

              It was a man that had grown up two houses down, who hadn’t seen my dad since they had both been 8 year-olds. The guy recognized my dad from his mannerisms. The guy didn’t live on the street anymore, but still lived in the city. He had just happened to be walking down the street when he noticed my dad standing there.

  9. The Bernini line is a really good piece of journalistic ignorance. The building of the new St. Paul’s and the means used to fund it (the sale of indulgences) was the immediate cause of the Reformation. I am pretty sure people still remember that even today nearly 500 years later.

    1. St. Peters’ I mean

    2. I am pretty sure people still remember that even today nearly 500 years later.

      No they don’t.

      I’ve met a total of 2 people who know what I’m talking about when I compare carbon credits with Papal indulgences. Neither were Catholic.

      1. Some people do. I forget sometimes that we have become collectively retarded.

        1. One of my co-workers told me once that I make the funniest comments because no one knows what I’m talking about. What I think are commonly understood historical or literary or biblical references apparently aren’t. I’ve consciously tried to simplify and say, for example, “we’ll be very unhappy” instead of “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” so people don’t think I’m talking about hunting whales.

          1. Don’t surrender!

            Defend the language comrade! It’s worth defending!

          2. I have a coworker, a recent HLS graduate, who didn’t seem to know anything about the widespread electronic surveillance going on the US. That was more than a year after Snowden’s revelations.

          3. Have you tried gauging your text for personality traits?

          4. One of my co-workers told me once that I make the funniest comments because no one knows what I’m talking about. What I think are commonly understood historical or literary or biblical references apparently aren’t.

            I get similar comments. I’ve learned to keep it to superficial arguments as well. It’s not so much that people don’t get it, it’s that people don’t care. There’s no intellectual curiosity, and so they just nod until you stop talking about “smart people things” and then count their blessings that they aren’t in high school anymore.

            1. I used to be more forgiving, because I thought people were busy with work, etc. and just were tired and didn’t have the time/didn’t care but in a very passive way.

              But since then I’ve learned that a)bullshit you are too tired from work. and b) people actively, AGGRESIVELY do not care and will go so far as to dislike you FOR caring. They take PRIDE in not caring and being ignorant, believing this gives them some unique, folksy wisdom or insight. They are better people, in their mind’s at least, for not distracting themselves with intellectual abstractions like facts, reason, or a basic understanding of how important shit like politics or economics work.

              Seriously, I love how people act like politics or economics are just abstract and arcane areas of knowledge in the same way as, say, medieval art is (Not to slam medieval art, and it does give useful cultural insights to know it) when it is something that affects your life every single motherfucking day. Also, these same cockslaps vote.

      2. That is a PERFECT comparison.

    3. Though I do like Bernini’s sculpture.

  10. I don’t really want to read that ridiculous article…did the author also go for the usual prog derp about Keynesian stimulus?

  11. Pikers:
    “Although today’s price tag stands at $6.3 billion, the figure accounts for only salaries and hard materials?things like concrete and steel and cranes. When all is said and done, the new Bay Bridge will wind up costing tax- and toll-payers more than $12 billion?a figure that leaves even the officials in charge “staggered.”
    http://sfpublicpress.org/news/…..NAjxu.dpuf

  12. I’ll make a deal with the Progs. You can spend as much money as you want on your transportation hub with one caveat, when schools and social welfare programs aren’t funded to your liking you then get to shut the fuck up.

  13. By the way that is one of the ugliest designs I could have imagined. Does anyone have any theories on why or how modern architecture managed to get to this point. It seems like all modern designs are just godawful.

    1. I’m not sure. Maybe the profession only attracts the tasteless insane? Let’s take the execrable Frank Gehry, for instance. That bastard foisted this abortion on the otherwise lovely UofMN campus.

      I detest this type of modern architecture.

      1. I’ve been there a few times. At least the inside is nice and well suited for a variety of artworks. But yeah, the exterior is hideous and when I ecpress this with members of the Twin Cities’ art community, ,they look at me like I’m some sort of cretin. It looks like shit.

      2. To be fair, Calatrava’s train station looks a lot better than Gehry’s crap. That asshole is almost singlehandely responsible for the “post-modern” bullshit that has ruined modern architecture.

    2. They think they are artists and refuse to admit that human have to live or work in their monstrosities.

      And, of course, they are enabled by people so useless they need to name something after themselves to be remembered.

    3. A lot of WHAT Sugar Free said. Architects are the worst. They pride themselves on designing ugly pieces of crap the public hates.

    4. They need a swift kick in the pants from Howard Roark! j/k

  14. You’ve got to love the logic of….Bernini fucked up, so this is a great idea.
    Like the crackpot inventor who thinks, they laughed at Edison. So if they laugh at me, I’m the next Edison.
    Pretty sure that’s not how it works.
    Sometimes people laugh at you because you’re a clown.
    Sometimes an idea is a bad idea.

    1. Hay Mainer – did you see my extremely late explanation about “English pock”?

      1. Missed that. What is it.

        1. Pack in German sounds a lot like “pock” and it can mean a rabble, a bunch of no-goodniks or such.

          That was very interesting to hear of someone using that term!

    2. “Master of lightning” was a good documentary. Edison comes off looking like a dick and Tesla looks like a madman.

      1. Edison comes off looking like a dick and Tesla looks like a madman.

        Well, they were. In his later years, Tesla believed he had an erotic relationship with a pigeon who would land on his apartment’s windowsill every night and transform into a woman composed of heavenly light.

    3. The worst part is he acts like there isn’t any downside to the various public buildings in Rome’s legacy. There was. The people in Northern Europe who were paying for those things didn’t think they were so great. Building St Peter’s and Rome’s endless appetite for money and art is the biggest single cause of the reformation and the millions of deaths and wars that occurred as a result. But hey, who can complain about that since we got a really awesome church out of the deal?

      1. Sort of like how people in Eastern Washington are paying for Seattle’s Big Dig II, The Big Dig Goes to Washington project boondoggle?

        1. Yup. You can understand how Luther attracted such an audience. The church is going around telling people they will burn in hell if they don’t buy an indulgence and then taking the money back over the Alps to Rome. Needless to say pretty much everyone had a problem with that. Even the government looked at that money as money they could be taxing.

          1. Co-opting church wealth played no small role in various governments deciding the Reformation was a lovely idea. Henry VIII probably would’ve gone back to the church after Catherine died, but for the insane amounts of lucre he got from stealing everything from church properties in England.

            1. Hank was not going to go back – the offer was actually made discreetly – but he saw the RC Church as a rival to his power.

              Like most dictators, he would tolerate no rivals.

              Until the rise of the Soviet Union, no European ruler ever has so much power over his country as H8 – not even Louis XIV or Napoleon.

      2. Julius blew a lot of cash on his wars, and Leo spent a lot of cash on his whores. Clement spent a lot of cash on his. . .what rhymes with wars and whores?

        1. Moors?

          1. Not really. His real problem was with the French. Maybe Tudors?

          2. I’m so sorry. The correct answer is “Moops”.

  15. Looks like Spiny Norman.

    Oh, and Andrew Rice? Fuck you, you pay for it.

    1. Diiiinsdale………

  16. This is a great example of how far this country has fallen from the tree, so to speak.

    There’s an excellent documentary on Netflix I strongly recommend which details the initial idea and eventual construction of Penn Station in New York, one of the greatest architectural and engineering marvels of the time.

    The entire thing was built with entirely private funds– all the property purchased, the construction, and the function– everything. And the people of New York at the time considered it their own– as if it were a gift to the New York public.

    Now, the government holds a monopoly on these kinds of mega projects. I guess we call this progress.

    1. What’s the title?

      1. I think it might be the Rise and Fall of Penn Station.

        If you have netflix, I’ll bet a search of Penn Station will turn it up.

        It really is fascinating, especially how they successfully built a tunnel under the east river at a time when everyone thought the idea was crazy.

        1. Thanks. I love documentaries.

          1. You can whatch it right now here:

            http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americ…..ilms/penn/

    2. I will have to look at that. And the irony of that is, it was torn down to build a publicly funded arena and office complex.

      1. Complete with crony capitalists and other assorted rent-seekers, no doubt.

      2. The train station was dumped in the basement – how sixties. It has all the charms of a wartime bunker, with 8-foot ceilings and teeming with reeking bums.

        1. Yup. GCT is actually very pleasant to go through – as long as you ignore the small army of SWAT, regular cops, state police, and soldiers milling about.

          1. Fat guys with glazed looks holding m-16s, that is what keeps me feeling safe.

      3. It’s fascinating how the President of Pennsylvania railroad had all the property purchased (a huge section of central Manhattan).

        He basically sent armies of men with bags of money into the streets, making impromptu on-the-spot offers to the owners. Some of these offers were for quite large amounts at the time: $30,000 and such. No one even really knew what was going on until the construction started.

        And the irony of that is, it was torn down to build a publicly funded arena and office complex.

        Yep. Although, according to the original plan for the station, it served its predicted purpose. That it would be the main terminus for all rail traffic in and out of New York for the next 50 years.

        Once the car came about… the passenger traffic was reduced to a trickle and that precipitated this architectural wonder being essentially boarded up.

        That was one serious architectural model I wish I could have seen in its heyday.

        1. This is an amazing but depressing book if you are interested.

          http://www.amazon.com/Destruct…..n+New+York

        2. It serves over 600,000 passengers a day – bit more than a “trickle”.

          1. I think he was referring to the advent of the car and the demise of the old train station and railroads?

            1. Pennsylvania Railroad couldn’t afford the upkeep so they sold the air rights and tore down the building. The advent of the car had nothing to do with it – except peripherally by affecting the railroad’s fortunes.

              1. By 1960, however, with the rise of the automobile and air travel, train travel had declined to 27% of intercity traffic. With the railroad industry in decline it was increasingly difficult for the Pennsylvania Railroad to justify maintaining a cavernous terminal in the country’s most expensive real estate market.

                Saying the car “had nothing to do with it” is factually wrong.

                http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americ…..-now/penn/

                1. I was contradicting this statement:

                  Once the car came about… the passenger traffic was reduced to a trickle

                  The passenger count *at this station* was never reduced to a trickle.

                  You’re right of course about the overall effects.

                  1. Forgive my use of the word “trickle”, perhaps that was a detail or impression I got from watching the documentary.

                    However, a 73% drop in passenger rail traffic is a very large hit.

                    Yeah, Penn station was being squeezed by both ends: Rising costs, couple with a 73% drop in traffic.

                    But I seem to recall (from the documentary) photos of a typical Penn station day in its heyday, and the station was mind-bogglingly packed. Then another ‘modern day’ photo towards the end of its life, and the grand space was only dotted with a few riders.

                    1. It’s possible that it rebounded. 600,000 passengers a day is a lot – and when you consider they are packed into the basement under MSG it’s unbelievable.

                      PATH almost folded in the 60’s and now it has double the ridership it had then.

                      NYC subway ridership is also at an all-time high.

                      In the sixties it was fashionable to assume that all NYers would simply drive everywhere. Well, that didn’t happen.

                  2. To put it in the perspective of numbers… to go from 600,000 riders a day to 162,000 riders a day would definitely raise some eyebrows.

                    Sure, if Seattle could get 162,000 riders a day on ALL of its rail projects combined, local politicians would be falling over themselves in self-congratulatory fervor, but for the world’s busiest metropolis, that was a pretty disheartening decline.

                    1. BTW, the percentage you quote is referring to percentage of national intercity traffic, not passenger counts. I can’t find any details on passenger counts at Penn Station. Given the mood of the time, I would not be the least bit surprised that passenger count was not taken into consideration at all when demolishing the station.

    3. “The entire thing was built with entirely private funds”

      Most of the great works in NYC were at least partly (and in many cases, mostly) funded by private donations.

      The famous quip being that the statue of liberty was finally paid for with the nickels and dimes of the poor over the years it sat incomplete. (not true, as far as i know)

      But the public library, the met, grand central, etc. were all products of the Astors, the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, etc., and coalitions of other private interests. Despite this, people continue to insist that only public funding has ever produced anything collectively worthwhile.

      1. Those things you mention have one thing in common; they were all built before the 60s.

        And yes, we used to build great public buildings with private money. Now not only is it tax money going to build them, the buildings suck on top of that.

        1. It’s because that architectural flourish others me.

        2. After the first round of ugly public structures, 1% for art got started so now projects need to flush even more money on modern “art” works installed on top of the roof, in the median of a highway or some other idiotic location.

  17. This is what makes NYC the @*#&$@ worst sometimes.

    its not just the mammoth corruption and waste.

    its the uptown assholes who insist its all *good for us*

    1. Well that is the complete progtard mindset – up to and including the uptown assholes will never ever use it themselves.

    2. its the uptown assholes who insist its all *good for us*

      Because culture!!!!

      Much like PBS and NPR.

    3. its the uptown assholes who insist its all *good for us*

      Next it will be the PAX. The G-23 Paxilon hydrochlorate will be added to the the air processors *for your own good*.

  18. It is precisely because the unseen effects are “unseen” that it is very difficult, nay, impossible, to persuade the public to view these projects as what they really are: pure waste at the public’s expense.

  19. OT:

    Univision sacks Emmy-winning host after he says Michelle Obama ‘looks like she’s part of the cast of Planet Of The Apes’

    Rodner Figueroa made the racially insensitive remark on the entertainment news show El Gordo Y La Flaca on Wednesday
    He was discussing the work of a make-up artist who had transformed himself into Michelle Obama
    By late Wednesday evening the network had removed his photo from their website and confirmed that they had fired him
    At the Daytime Emmy Awards last June Figueroa had won the Outstanding Daytime Talent in the Spanish category

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..-Apes.html

    1. Right genre. Wrong movie.

    2. So, I’m guessing he’ll be described as “white Hispanic,” yeah?

    3. I find this very telling as he never specifically said she looked like one of the ape characters. For all we know he meant Kim Hunter or Linda Harrison.

  20. It’s no wonder that we’re more apt to appreciate the public infrastructure that exists than to mourn the unnamed projects and initiatives that never came to fruition

    Is it my imagination (or bias), or are humans in general pretty terrible at intuitively considering opportunity costs? People here seem to grasp it ok, but it simply never comes up in public discourse.

  21. At least NYC got something for the tax dollars spent (wasted). 8 years ago, Chicago spent $200 million on a Superstation for the CTA, and now the concrete bathtub is completely empty and unusable.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com…..perstation

    “We the taxpayers spent well over $200 million on what amounts to one of the world’s biggest unfinished basements. And it will only take another $150 million or so to be able to use it.

    That won’t happen anytime soon.

    The superstation, which was mothballed in 2008, runs on a diagonal from beneath the corner of Randolph and Dearborn streets, southeast to the corner of State and Washington streets. I’m not supposed to say how you access the space ? security concerns, you know ? but let’s just say that a variety of elevators, locked doors and ladders are involved.

    What’s striking once you get in the space is its size: as long as a football field-and-a-half (472 feet), 68 feet wide and averaging 28 feet high. Call it a concrete bathtub ? or an “envelope,” as our tour guide, Chicago Transit Authority Chief Infrastructure Officer Chris Bushell, put it ? with rows of support pillars receding into the dim far distance.”

    1. Sooo, like the Mines of Moria?

      1. – goblins and a balrog.

        1. You sure about that?

  22. Subway stations need not be anything more grandiose than a steel-and-concrete reinforced hole in the ground.

  23. Hmm. I’m not commenting on the design or architect, but the utility.

    Does, or more importantly, will NYC need a “transportation hub” in the coming decades?

    Is train, subway, and bus travel really the future? Will there be enough commuters coming in and out of NYC daily? Do the demographics support it, or will it be a beautiful but empty structure? How about several smaller scale and more accessible hubs which would be better for the actual humans who would use them daily?

    While the design might be post-modern the concept is industrial age.

    I imagine NYC will do what NYC usually does: they’ll begin construction just as the next financial crisis sets in. It’ll end up being a ridiculous monument to the hubris of New Yorkers.

    1. will NYC need a “transportation hub” in the coming decades?

      I’m sure they asked the same question in the sixties – and they were spectacularly wrong then, as ridership levels in the city are higher than ever. Remember this thing is a hub for PATH and something like 10 subway lines too.

  24. The description in the article is lacking

    the $4 billion is for the SKYSCRAPER that also has a train station right next to it. Most of the money went to the skyscraper, as they only had to rebuild the PATH station after 9-11; even a collapsing building can’t destroy a pit, it can only fill it with rubble (the station is underground)

    so the $4 billion is ridiculous, but it ain’t just the train station. I don’t know what portion the train station took up monetarily, but I can tell you the re-muneration/importance is extremely high; the PATH train is all day, every 10-20 minutes service, and then all night service, between NJ and NYC. It allows the financial district people to do their work, plus bring partiers into NYC, as you don’t need to worry about driving (when drunk).

    Now, I could also tell you about how the enitre financial sector which is centered in NYC is actually a giant, government-graft leech of the entire country, but that’s another subject

    1. It’s a ridiculous waste!

      Why, for four billion, they could probably have built a half-mile of HSR!

  25. Couldn’t the argument ‘well, no one will give a shit in 100 years’ be used for virtually anything?

    I mean, there will be tons of policy shifts in the next 100 years, so technically no one will care what free speech laws look like today in the year 2115. Therefore, if we just start throwing people in jail for their political opinions, it really doesn’t matter!

    We should just destroy all the slums and force poor people into the countryside. That way, in 100 years all our cities will look beautiful, and no one will really care how that came about.

    If you base all of your decision making on what someone will theoretically care about in a century, you can talk yourself into anything.

    1. If people are still being taxed to pay for this eye sore in a century, they might care.

    2. +1 Creation of Central Park.

  26. “Bernini, most people don’t know, built a tower at the Vatican that collapsed,” he says. “He had such a failure he thought his career would never recover. Now we look back at Bernini and say, ‘wow, what an architect.’ So, look, you have to give it time.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This is the greatest argument I’ve heard in a long time. ‘This famous guy fucked up royally and recovered, therefore obviously this fuckup will end up being brilliant in the long term!’

    No one ever mentions the hundreds of potential artists and architects who fucked up and spent the rest of their lives busing tables.

    1. “Past performance is not indicative of future results.”

  27. will cost $4 billion, or roughly double the price tag sold to the public

    I dare say *at least $4B*. In any event, FRAUD!

  28. Someday?people will revel in Calatrava’s creation and the controversies will be forgotten.

    That might be true if this were another Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station (the old McKim, Mead & White structure, not the current station underneath Madison Square Garden). This monstrosity will only cause people to grit their teeth and say, “I can’t believe they spent four billion dollars of our money on this POS.”

  29. It looks like King Kong dropped his comb.

  30. Looks like the worlds largest, most useless dish rack. This art/architecture sucks.

  31. I don’t often comment on this site. By the time the slashers and burners get done, there’s nothing left to do but make the rubble bounce. That’s not worth the effort. For the logic-impaired, this is a compliment, not a complaint.

    PS. As far as I’m concerned, Calatrava’s speciality is oh-my-god, look-at-me architecture. Bernini would puke.

  32. There are 33.6 square miles of Manhattan (including water surface). Personal Rapid Transit — such as are delighting passengers at Heathrow Airport in London, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, and Suncheon Bay, South Korea — costs on the order of $90M per square mile to construct (including all infrastructure and rolling stock, but not counting the cost of right-of-way acquisition, which could be tricky and expensive in NYC). For that $90M: people in the service area are never more than 1/4 mile away from a system access point (where vehicles can pick-up or drop-off passengers); every trip is a direct one, non-stop to the destination, in a self-driving vehicle on an elevated guideway, removed from street traffic; there is little or no waiting for vehicles; you always get your own vehicle, which you can ride alone or with two or three companions; and there is no need (much less expense) to park the vehicles. They either pick up new passengers immediately, wait for passengers at the system access point, or drive themselves to system access points nearby, where passengers have requested rides. (concluded in reply post, below)

    1. (continued from main post, above)

      Building a PRT system that would serve the entire 33.6 square miles of Manhattan, allowing tens or hundreds of thousands of Manhattanites and visitors per day to go anywhere they wanted in the city in just a few minutes, no matter the time of day, or surface-street traffic conditions, would cost just $3.024 billion. By installing pervasive PRT, NYC could improve the lives of virtually everyone who lives, works, or visits there (even those who never directly use the system, by relieving street congestion!), saving a billion dollars in the process. Instead, they build a palace to enshrine transportation modes that were old before the turn of the century.

  33. In 100 years will anyone remember that it was $2 billion dollars over budget? Well the people who could have gotten medical help won’t, they’ll have died, and their children and grandchildren will never have existed. The husbands who had to spend nights of overtime to pay the interest on it won’t, they’ll be in divorce court.

    $2 billion is over $40/person living in poverty in the USA. That’s enough to feed someone for about a week if they’re not fussy (and they wouldn’t be they’re poor). But it’s the libertarians that don’t care about the poor, we’re the monsters. I seriously wish people that justify corruption like this would get cancer, except we’d end up paying their medical bills.

  34. In 100 years will anyone remember that it was $2 billion dollars over budget? Well the people who could have gotten medical help won’t, they’ll have died, and their children and grandchildren will never have existed. The husbands who had to spend nights of overtime to pay the interest on it won’t, they’ll be in divorce court.

    $2 billion is over $40/person living in poverty in the USA. That’s enough to feed someone for about a week if they’re not fussy (and they wouldn’t be they’re poor). But it’s the libertarians that don’t care about the poor, we’re the monsters. I seriously wish people that justify corruption like this would get cancer, except we’d end up paying their medical bills.

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