Grand Central Terminal or Grand Central Station as it is more often referred to, is one of New York’s iconic landmarks. It is on everyone’s list of what to do in New York
Before you enter the swinging bronze and timber doors of 42nd Street, take a moment to look up. It’s not often that two icons of a city can be seen in one frame. Over the entrance, a sculpture of Minerva, Hercules and Mercury stand atop the large Tiffany glass clock. In the other corner, the top of the glistening Chrysler Building peers over a nearby building.
Millions of people have passed through these building’s halls on their way to catch a train, eat at one of the famous restaurants or just ogle at the amazing architecture.
Grand Central Station was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1869. After an accident in 1902, steam trains were outlawed and the electrification of the railway resulted in a new and larger station being built. Buildings and apartments were included in this grand design and on February 2nd 1913, Grand Central Terminal was opened.
The main hall is magnificent. Large arched windows at either end allow light to stream onto the marble floors. Two stairways at opposite ends of the concourse lead to the mezzanine level where large chandeliers hang. The central information point with its famous four sided clock, has become everyone’s meeting point as they arrive or depart on the trains. Some of the beautiful old ticket booths are closed as a result of todays’ modern vending machines but their elegance remains. A large American flag hangs high over the hall as it has since 9/11 and remains to this day.
Stairs lead down to two levels of platforms, forty four in all, that make Grand Central the largest train station in the world (according to platform numbers).
The famous Oyster Bar and Restaurant is on the dining level just below the main concourse.
Don’t rush inside but stop outside under the arched entranceway. You may notice people standing in the corner and talking to the wall. No they are not mad, they are just learning one of Grand Central Station’s secrets. If you stand in one corner and whisper into the wall, your friend standing in the other corner will be able to hear everything you say, loud and clear. The acoustics of the low ceramic arches have created this well known ‘whispering gallery’.
Another secret involves the amazing painted ceiling. Painted by French artist, Paul Helleu, the ceiling features zodiac constellations. Look up and see if you notice anything out of place. If you’re like me, you’ll have to be told that the zodiacs on the ceiling have been painted backwards. There are many theories as to the reason why but nothing is conclusive. You may also notice that there is a small dark patch on the ceiling. This has been left to show the comparison of the original ceiling colour before the restoration.
Before you leave, visit The Campbell Apartment, the restored private office of tycoon John W Campbell that is now the ultimate cocktail bar.
The Apartment was restored in 1999 and the room now evokes the atmosphere of the thirties. A perfect place for a quiet cocktail! Even though it is located in a corner of Grand Central Station, access is via 15 Vanderbilt Ave.
Have you been to Grand Central Station?
Grand Central Terminal
89E 42nd Street