The "Gimbels Passageway," an underground corridor along W. 33rd Street linking Penn Station with the Herald Square subway station complex could soon reopen after being closed for more than 20 years, according to Mobilizing the Region, the newsletter of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
A real estate developer wants to reopen it after more than 20 years since it was sealed off as part of a project to redevelop the Hotel Pennsylvania and Manhattan Mall, which occupies the site of the former Gimbel's department store for which the corridor was named. The reopening would make it easier for commuters to get to and from the rail lines using Penn Station (Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit, 7th Avenue subway, 8th Avenue subway) and those at Herald Square (6th Avenue subway, Broadway subway and PATH) since it would obviate the need to climb stairs or use escalators to get to the street. It would reduce pedestrian congestion along W. 32nd and W. 33rd Street and it would most appreciated during the winter months and on rainy days.
The passageway closed not long after Gimbel's went out of business in 1987. By that time it had become overrun with derelicts, junkie and other unsavory characters, making it seem a depressing and threatening. Its reopening would be a powerful symbol of New York's recovery from the bleak times of the 1970s and 1980s.
Tip of the hat to Brian W. at "The Railfan Window Blog." He had the story weeks ahead of the Tri-State Transportation Committee.