May 23, 2024
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May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Most people think of Manhattan as a serious, business-like city full of offices and smelly food carts, but in truth, it was always designed with tourists in mind.

Well, not always. They started off designing the downtown area, and that’s a mess. It’s a bunch of randomly named skinny streets going at random angles between buildings that are way too close together, and to get into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which goes east, you have to be on the West Side Highway. But by the time they got around to building Midtown, they were like, “Look. A lot of people are going to be coming through Manhattan. You can’t have everyone constantly trying to figure out what street they’re on. So our best option is to number everything. We’ll have First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue, Lexington, Madison, Park… Broadway, which goes diagonally… and then at random times of the day, we’ll say that no one can turn. Everyone has to just drive straight toward whatever body of water is ahead of him. This will clear up traffic. And create job openings.”

That’s why it’s not surprising that a design firm has just proposed putting a huge amusement ride on top of Pennsylvania Station. Which is in Manhattan, apparently.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Penn Station. I do know that when I was in yeshiva in Queens, I used to go to my uncle and aunt’s house in Long Island to do laundry, and one time I was considering taking a train back to yeshiva, and my uncle said that if I did, I’d have to “change at Penn Station,” and I thought, “That’s okay, because I just did my laundry.”

Penn Station is actually in need of major renovations, and they need to raise money to do them. So their idea is to build a ride and charge $35 bucks a pop. The ride, called “Halo,” is going to be a freefall thing. A freefall ride is where they raise you up in a tower and drop you hundreds of feet straight down, and then they send down your stomach down afterward. Or you can put it in one of those lockers.

It doesn’t even seem like a ride. It seems like an elevator shaft that was not put together correctly.

So it would be perfect for Penn Station, right? It’s like a train, but vertical. And with better cell phone reception. I’m waiting for a commuter with a briefcase to get on the wrong line by accident.

According to the proposal, there will be 11 gondolas, flying down the tracks at up to 100 miles per hour, which is a speed that you cannot achieve anywhere else in Manhattan. The main way they’re going to achieve this speed, scientifically, is that they won’t make you wait at street corners every 50 feet while hundreds of people of all shapes and sizes cross against the light and climb over your hood.

They want to put this ride on top of Madison Square Garden, which is round, apparently. (Penn Station shares its structure with Madison Square Garden, and at least four Duane Reades.) And the only downside they can see is that the people in neighboring buildings are going to have to get work done with blood-curdling screams making them jump at all hours of the day.

According to press materials, Halo would rise to a height of 1,200 ft. above the building, measure 460 ft. in diameter and be made of 17,000 tons of steel. I don’t know why they’re always telling us how many tons of steel. I’m not trying to figure out how many of my friends I have to get together to lift it. (A lot, as it turns out. An increasing number of my friends have bad backs.)

The ride will also give commuters something to do while waiting for their train. And if they get a private gondola, they can “change at Penn Station” at 100 miles per hour while screaming. This may make it harder to get their tallis kattan down over their heads.

The ride is expected to bring in billions of dollars, mostly from change flying out of people’s pockets. I think they are grossly overestimating the number of people who are not afraid of heights.

Of course, they’re factoring in tourists. After all, Manhattan is a tourist attraction. People come from all over the world to walk around and stand in your way and look up at the buildings. So now people are thinking, “What if the tourists got to look down at the ground?”

“We’ve already seen the ground.”

And Manhattan is already part theme park. There are trains and boats and parades and horsies and terrifying cab rides and bike rentals and stores selling things for more money than anywhere else in the world and costumed characters that are just a little bit off, but who, if you give them some money, will probably not mug you. There are also a lot of fountains you’re not supposed to frolic in, and during the summer, you can get various splashes on you from above when you’re absolutely positive that it’s not raining.

But I don’t know why specifically it has to be Penn Station. Maybe every building should have a freefall ride to make getting down easier. Or just install it as a feature on all office building elevators. It would make every elevator ride even more harrowing, but at least it would eliminate the awkward conversation.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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