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Please Don’t Shoot Moynihan Station’s Acre-Sized Skylight With a BB Gun

Moynihan Station's sidewalk shed will be gone much faster than most sidewalk sheds.

12:39 PM EDT on November 2, 2023

Workers in a spider crane repair Moynihan Station's glass atrium.

(Hell Gate)

If you were one of the tens of thousands of Amtrak riders passing through Moynihan Station in recent days, you might have noticed an infamous New York City eyesore in the heart of the $1.6 billion train station.

Big shed (Hell Gate)

What is the ubiquitous sidewalk shed, blocker of sunlight, ruiner of views, doing in this pristine (if benchless) sky-lit atrium?  

Technically, this is not a New York City Department of Buildings-approved sidewalk shed because if it were, its parapets would be made of mesh and not wood. But it is serving an actual purpose: to allow workers to make repairs to the station's acre-sized skylight without worrying about broken glass raining down on riders.

"We think someone shot it with a BB gun," a construction worker told Hell Gate on Thursday morning, adding that six panels were damaged. 

Did the BBs come from inside Moynihan, or outside of it? "Could have been either," the worker said. "We don't know." The spider crane the workers are using to get up 92 feet to repair the glass, as well as the sidewalk shed, should be gone by the end of Friday, the worker added.

When we asked the MTA about the shed, they referred us to Empire State Development, the privatized arm of the New York state government (and really, the governor's office) that shepherded the construction of Moynihan. Amtrak's press shop also declined to say anything, and pointed us to ESD, which has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Workers repair the glass panels (Hell Gate)

Why would someone shoot Moynihan's ceiling with a BB gun (if that is, in fact, what happened)? There could be a million reasons. Perhaps such a person was upset that there is no big board to look and see where their trains are coming in. Perhaps they did not care for how advertisements are making it impossible to enjoy a new public art installation that was recently installed.

In any event, shooting projectiles in a public train station is a bad idea. BB guns are illegal to possess in New York City, and whoever did this is costing us precious money that could in fact be used to install a bench or two in the atrium.

[UPDATE] After this story was published, ESD told Hell Gate that seven of the roughly 3,100 glass panels were damaged due to "suspected vandalism," and that the damage was done to the exterior panels. Nothing leaked or posed any damage to people below, ESD insisted, and the repairs should be finished before the weekend.

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