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PA-Nice Port Authority 1955 #TBT


Photo: PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK – MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK X2010.11.5188

The Port Authority Bus Terminal was just five years old when this photograph was taken. Starting out as a much smaller build, taking up just one block between 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 41st Streets, it was already well on its way to becoming what it is today, the world's busiest bus terminal and, according to Virtual Tourist, one of the world's ugliest buildings.


Around 9,000 tons of structural steel, more than two million bricks, and a whopping $24 million went into the original building. In 1979, it was extended to 42nd Street.


Baffling those who use it and travel past it every day, and despite its busy nature, the ever-growing station is not too popular with New Yorkers: "Those who pass by this iron monstrosity might be tempted to ask about a completion date, but alas, this is the finished product," says one quote, also from Virtual Tourist.


With the increase in population, it serves more people each day. Around 59 million passed through in 2006; these days it's more than 66 million and that number can only go up.


Now Port Authority says its masterpiece is too old and too small, so it's planning a brand new one. The rebuild will take an estimated 15 years and cost $10.5 billion, and could see the new terminal relocating to land west of 9th Avenue.


This mammoth move would take out some of the neighborhood's much-loved sites including Sea Breeze, International Grocers, Better Being, Metro Baptist Church, and Capizzi, not to mention more than 200 apartments.


The community continues to fight the proposals. But one thing's for sure: this photograph could look very different in another 60 years.


The original story appeared in the June 2016 issue of W42ST magazine. Stay in touch with W42ST and be first to read stories like this when you join our daily newsletter at w42st.com


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