The real reason to visit the renovated George Washington Bridge Bus Station isn't the new market

Two years behind schedule and $17 million over budget, the revamped George Washington Bridge Bus Station finally re-opened last May, making it easier for uptowners to access both the local commuter buses and the subway.

Since then, its retail arm, the GWB Market, has slowly welcomed some of its biggest new tenants, including Marshalls, the Gap Factory Store, Spectrum and Blink Fitness. (On a recent visit I still didn't see any sign of the local small businesses that were supposed to have signed leases; here is who was on the list as of last May.)

While it's certainly nice to have a clean, new place to enter the subway, buy discounted fashion and replace your cable modem, for me the real reason to go is the striking mid-century modern architecture. Designed in 1963 by Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, the massive terminal is a visual jolt of soaring lines and bold geometric patterns made from reinforced concrete.

I recommend a full walk around the west building starting at Broadway and 178th Street, then heading west toward Fort Washington Avenue and looping around the north side. From the south it resembles some sort of futuristic steam liner, while other views are reminiscent of Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA terminal at JFK (which opened in 1962, one year earlier).

Don't forget to go inside and upstairs to the actual bus depot to see Nervi's massive twisted concrete columns. (An article in The Architect's Newspaper has more great info and old photos.) Take lots of pictures–then go treat yourself to a little something special at Marshalls.

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