New Yorkers are known for their hustle and bustle in getting where they need to be. The Port Authority Bus Terminal is integral to moving visitors and commuters in and out of the city. The terminal’s dirty and unwelcoming environment may make it one of the most hated places in New York City, but there are some hidden gems from art galleries to a hidden bowling alley that may soften your opinion. Here are the top ten secrets of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal.
10. Port Authority Gallery of the People
A gallery might not be something you’d expect to find in a bus terminal, but the Port Authority Bus Terminal isn’t a run-of-the-mill public transportation center. In January 2017, the gallery featured photographs of Muhammad Ali by photographer Michael Gaffney. The gallery went meta this past April and featured time lapse photos of the bus terminal by Tony Gregory. The Port Authority Bus Terminal 2017 Time Lapse Gallery was featured from March until the end of April.
The galleries inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal provide a rich cultural experience for both locals and tourists. While most people who travel through the terminal on a daily basis don’t know about the gallery, it’s a great bridge between transportation and art. There is also a gallery on the side of the Port Authority, projecting rotating art to pedestrians who pass by.
9. There’s A Hidden Bowling Alley Inside Port Authority
Up until 2003, the bowling alley in Port Authority was generally only discovered by lost commuters as it had no outside entrance. Originally known as Leisure Time Bowl, Danish company Big Bowl invested ten million dollars to convert the secret bowling alley into a high-class bowling alley.
When Leisure Time Bowl became Frames NYC, it was given a large entrance on the corner of 40th Street and 9th Avenue. Well-known names such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, Tina Fey, and Alec Baldwin have been spotted at the bowling alley. It is closed to anyone under 21 after 6 PM and if you’re dressed in your traveling sweats, you’ll be turned away for not meeting the dress code standards.
8. The Port Authority Has A Performing Arts Center
No location in New York City would be complete without a performing arts center and the Port Authority Bus Terminal is no exception. A rainbow baby grand piano, located on the Performing Arts Stage, made its debut in November with the song, “Rhapsody in Blue.” The song was performed by Michael Fennelly on piano and opera singer, Monique McDonald, who performed a Richard Wagner aria.
The piano was installed by the organization, Sing for Hope to cheer up and inspire commuters after a long work day. The Port Authority Sing for Hope piano was the 338th piano to be installed by the organization.
7. A Statue of Ralph Kramden Stands Just Outside The Port Authority
The 4,000-pound bronze sculpture of Ralph Kramden, the fictional bus driver from The Honeymooners, sculpted by Larry Nowlan, stands proudly in the southwest corner of the terminal across from Eighth Avenue. The South Wing opened in 1950 which makes it a fitting location for the statue as that is the same time Ralphie was driving his fictional bus on TV Land.
TV Land’s decision to erect statues to commemorate the characters on the popular channel was made in 1999, well after the shows that it was honoring had first aired. Ralphie was the first of the series of statues to be installed in New York City.
6. There’s A Poem Written For Port Authority Commuters
Located in the tunnel between Port Authority and Times Square, the Commuter’s Lament is a poem that embodies what a lot of people are thinking when they come and go from work. The poem reads:
Why the pain?
Just go home.
Do it again.”
The installment, that spans from the A/C/E trains to the 1/2/3/7 trains was created by Norman B. Colp in 1997 and cost the MTA $5,000. Despite the lamenting tone of the poem, it’s the perfect way for commuters to have a laugh at themselves before and after a hards day at work.
5. There’s Also A Statue To Honor Port Authority Commuters
Featured in the Port Authority Bus Terminal is a sculpture to honor the commuters that enter the building on a daily basis. The Commuters sculpture consists of three white patina bronze statues of commuters waiting for a bus with a clock that will forever read 3:00.
George Segal was the creator of the sculpture that measures 84 inches by 72 inches by 96 inches. The Commuters has adorned the hall of Port Authority since 1980.
4. The Port Authority’s 42nd Street Ballroom Had A Stormy Past
Designed by George Rhoads in 1983, the 42nd Street Ballroom has had a tumultuous past in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The kinetic sculpture consists of 24 billiard balls, over fifteen devices to create movement and chiming sounds, and runs on a timer. The sculpture also features a button that allows visitors to interact with the device despite the timer function.
The sculpture was removed for a time because it allowed easy targets for pickpocketers, but was brought back due to public demand where it continues to remain on display.
3. There’s A Person In Charge of Making The Port Authority Commute More Enjoyable
While the Port Authority Bus Terminal has some amazing physical secrets and fun things to do, people are often the glue that holds things together. In the case of Port Authority, Myron Johnson, Junior Operations Supervisor, fits that bill. Myron does much more for the terminal than his title may suggest.
Johnson has a solid connection with arts and entertainment in New York City and has the unique ability to convince artists anywhere from Broadway to the New York Philharmonic to perform at the bus terminal free of charge. For fifteen years, Myron has been working tirelessly to make passengers’ commutes more enjoyable and without him, much of the arts events that passengers are treated to on a daily basis would not occur.
2. Winona Wingfield Is The Go-To Navigation Person At The Port Authority
Another person helping to keep the Port Authority Bus Terminal functioning is Winona Wingfield. According to Portfolio, the official blog of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Winona “is the Hell’s Kitchen equivalent of Waze, the popular go-to navigation app for traffic and road information used worldwide.”
About 150,000 people visit Winona’s booth annually, located near the 8th Avenue entrance. She’s been employed with the Port Authority Bus Terminal since 1984 and has continued to give advice on navigating the city to stressed, rushed, angry, and grateful travelers from all over ever since. Winona often goes above and beyond her job description and was even responsible for reuniting a fifteen-year-old run away with her family.
1. Big Renovation Plans Are Coming To The Port Authority
Arial view of Arcadis of New York, Inc’s renovation plans via Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Major renovation plans have been in the works for the Port Authority Bus Terminal for a while and plans have slowly been forming. The project to renovate the aging bus station have met several setbacks that include territorial disputes and red tape between New Jersey and New York City, budget, and timeline plans.
In September, five potential plans were unveiled that included designs by the Arcadis of New York, Inc., the Archilier Architecture Consortium, Hudson Terminal Center Collaborative, Pelli Clark Pelli Architects , and Perkins Eastman.
In August, Regional Plan Association noted that upgrades to the existing terminal in addition to building a new terminal underneath the Javits Center would solve the problem and have less of an impact on the surrounding neighborhoods than the original renovation plans.
Next, check out 18 Art Installations and Exhibits Not to Miss in NYC in September 2017 and The Top 11 Secrets of Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Get in touch with the author @LitByLiterature