The McKim, Mead and White architectural firm designed the enormous James Farley post office, which opened in 1913, as a companion to Pennsylvania Station, just across 8th Avenue. A monumental Corinthian colonnade stretches along 8th Avenue for 2 city blocks, which contains the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service: “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The phrase was first used by the Greek writer Herodotus to describe messengers employed by the Persians, located in today’s Iran, during the Greek-Persian Wars that took place between 500 and 449 BC.
After several years of discussion and planning, Penn Station’s western concourse is being extended to encompass New Jersey Transit and Amtrak tracks, and will be known as the Moynihan Train Hall, after U.S. Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who championed the project. It will also vastly improve access to the labyrinthine station, creating new entrances at the southwest corner of 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue and at 8th Avenue and 31st Street. The entrances have escalators, elevators and stairs to the platforms. Plans to turn the Post Office building into the new Penn Station have been on the books for years and only recently has construction begun; it was slowed down by the onset of the Covid crisis, but the MTH is set to open in late 2020 or, more likely, sometime in 2021.
The post office functions formerly in the James Farley building, named for the 1930s Postmaster General who expanded the building to a full city block, moved several years ago to the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center a few blocks away on 9th Avenue and West 29th Street. The public postal windows on the 8th Avenue side will remain as they have always been, with the remainder of the building converted to the Moynihan Train Hall as well as retail and office space. Facebook has signed a lease to relocate its headquarters in the building.
Unless the public post office on 8th Avenue retains the Farley name, the only trace of it remaining will be the modest entrance to Farley Marketing Studio, 345 West 33rd Street, across 33rd Street from the former post office.