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Grand Central Terminal – Tips, Tricks, and Secrets!

Grand Central Terminal is The world’s largest railway station, Grand Central Terminal, is situated in Manhattan, New York, USA. Covering an expansive 48 acres, this iconic terminal boasts a total of 44 platforms, divided into two levels – 30 on the upper level and 30 on the lower level. With 26 patanias, totaling 67 patents, the terminal attracts approximately 7.5 lakh visitors daily.

Every day, a staggering 750,000 people pass through this bustling hub, making it the busiest train terminal globally. Today, we will be sharing some insider tips, tricks, and secrets to give you a fresh perspective on this iconic place.

Grand Central Terminal History

Grand Central Terminal, originally built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871 with a total area of 69.8 acres, was initially known as Grand Central Depot. By the 20th century, the surge in commuter traffic necessitated the construction of a new terminal. Work on the current building commenced in 1903, requiring the removal of over 3 million cubic yards of rock and earth, the demolition of approximately 200 buildings, and the use of nearly 30,000 tons of steel—three times more than the Eiffel Tower.

Despite its vast size, much of Grand Central Terminal remains hidden, including its expansive underground train yard. On February 2, 1913, after a decade of construction and a total cost of $80 million (equivalent to nearly $2 billion today), Grand Central Terminal officially opened its doors.

Throughout its history, Grand Central has housed an art gallery, art school, newsreel movie theater, and rail history museum. During World War II, it served as the last rail stop for troops bound for Europe, with black-painted windows to prevent enemy targeting.

The terminal boasts 68 shops and 35 dining options, and over 700,000 people traverse the main concourse daily, equivalent to the entire population of San Francisco. The iconic clock in the main hall is a popular rendezvous spot, and the walls of glass were designed for ventilation, transportation, and illumination.

The celestial-themed ceiling, depicting the Mediterranean sky during the October to March zodiac, features 2,500 stars. In 1998, a 12-year restoration project commenced to eliminate decades of tar and nicotine from tobacco smoke, though a single dark patch still remains.

Grand Central’s most innovative feature is its ramps, allowing passengers to move seamlessly from train to street without climbing stairs. The acorns and oak leaves throughout the terminal symbolize the Vanderbilt family coat of arms.

Grand Central Terminal hosts one of the largest lost and founds in the country, with an average of 2,000 items lost each month—cell phones being the most common. Presently, the terminal operates 700 trains daily, employing 300 engineers and 750 conductors.

Ranked as the second most visited site in New York City, Grand Central attracts almost 20 million visitors annually, and nearly 70,000 rail tickets are sold daily, solidifying its status as one of the busiest railroad stations in the country.

Every Detail of Grand Central Terminal Explained | Architectural Digest

I’m Anthony W. Robbins, an author and historian of New York City. I’m Sam Roberts, the urban affairs correspondent of The New York Times. When you walk out of the subway, you can see Grand Central coming up from Park Avenue. The central arch, especially the central one, is very visible for anyone walking up Park Avenue from the south.

Whitney Warren, an American architect who studied in Paris and brought back a Parisian sensibility, designed Grand Central to resemble a French building dropped on the corner of 42nd and Park. The facade is spectacular, but first, let’s go inside. We’ll walk under the Pershing Square viaduct, one of the major entrances to the terminal.

Although one of the chief goals was to create a grand experience, as you enter New York, the station was designed when entering from outside the city. The entranceway is dedicated to Jacqueline Onassis, fittingly honoring her role in saving the terminal after the demolition of Penn Station.

As you turn left, you’ll see a plaque commemorating her involvement. The preservation battle to keep the terminal standing was crucial for historic preservation. The terminal has decorations reflecting the Vanderbilt family symbol, the acorn. Clocks are abundant in Grand Central, emphasizing the importance of synchronized time for travelers.

Heading down a ramp towards the main concourse, you’ll enter Vanderbilt Hall, the former main waiting room. The chandeliers in the hall weigh a ton and a half, and the raw, naked light bulbs emphasize the electrification of Grand Central, a remarkable feature in 1913. The decorative sculpture, including locomotive wheels and wings, symbolizes travel, commerce, speed, and the delivery of services.

The main concourse is the grandest space in Grand Central, resembling a secular cathedral. The ceiling, depicting constellations, holds 61 bright stars, each a light bulb. The blackened rectangle is a reminder of the tar and nicotine removed during the 1990s restoration.

The departure boards list times one minute earlier than the actual departure, a tradition dating back to the use of gates at track entrances. Ramps, an innovative feature, allows passengers to move seamlessly from trains to streets without climbing stairs.

The acorns and oak leaves throughout the terminal represent the Vanderbilt family coat of arms. Grand Central has one of the largest lost and founds in the country, with an average of 2,000 items lost each month. Today, the terminal runs 700 trains a day, employing 300 engineers and 750 conductors.

The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

there are secrets within Grand Central that remain unknown to many. One of these intriguing secrets is a 25,000 square foot mistake—the constellations on the ceiling are actually backwards. This error occurred when the painters accidentally flipped the astronomers’ design and painted it in reverse. Sam Roberts, the author of “Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America,” unveils this and other secrets surrounding the historic terminal.

While Grand Central has been a fixture in movies, playing prominent roles in films like “North by Northwest” and “Midnight Run,” one of its coolest secrets lies within the information booth. Beyond being a central hub with the famous clock on top, the information booth holds a concealed secret—a hidden door that opens up to reveal a secret staircase. This staircase leads to the lower concourse and the food court, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this iconic space.

Descending into the deepest basement in New York City, which remains absent from maps and diagrams, reveals the sub-basement that controlled the power for the trains. This area was a target for Adolf Hitler during World War II, and guards were ordered to shoot intruders on sight. The wall of windows overlooking the terminal conceals offices and a glass catwalk, known as the glass catwalk, providing breathtaking views down to the main concourse.

Despite its current status as a beloved New York icon, Grand Central Terminal faced the threat of demolition in the 1960s. The bankrupt Penn Central Railroad considered tearing it down to build a skyscraper, but it was Jackie Onassis who played a pivotal role in saving Grand Central.

Lastly, a very practical secret involves the departure boards. Contrary to what is listed, Metro-North trains actually leave one minute later than the specified time. So, if you find yourself running late, you might just make it.

FAQ: Grand Central Terminal

1. What is Grand Central Terminal?

Grand Central Terminal is a historic train station located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is renowned for its iconic architecture, role in transportation, and various amenities.

2. When was the Grand Central Terminal built?

Grand Central Terminal was originally built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871. The current building, as we know it today, began construction in 1903 and officially opened on February 2, 1913.

3. How large is Grand Central Terminal?

The total area of Grand Central Terminal is 69.8 acres, making it one of the largest and busiest train stations in the world.

4. Why is Grand Central Terminal famous?

Grand Central Terminal is famous for its architectural beauty, including the celestial-themed ceiling, the iconic clock, and the historic main concourse. It has also been featured in numerous films and is a symbol of transportation in New York City.

5. Are there any hidden features or secrets in Grand Central Terminal?

Yes, Grand Central Terminal holds various secrets, including a 25,000-square-foot mistake in the constellations on the ceiling. There are also hidden doors, secret staircases, and a glass catwalk with stunning views.

6. What role did Grand Central Terminal play during World War II?

During World War II, Grand Central Terminal served as the last rail stop for troops heading to Europe. The terminal’s windows were painted black to prevent enemy aircraft from targeting it. The sub-basement, controlling power for the trains, was a target for sabotage.

7. Was Grand Central Terminal almost demolished?

Yes, in the 1960s, the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad considered demolishing Grand Central Terminal to build a skyscraper. However, Jackie Onassis played a key role in saving the historic landmark.

8. How many people pass through Grand Central Terminal daily?

Grand Central Terminal sees over 700,000 people passing through the main concourse every day, making it a bustling transportation hub.

9. What are some popular amenities in Grand Central Terminal?

The terminal hosts 68 shops, 35 dining options, an art gallery, an art school, and even a whispering gallery. It is a vibrant space with diverse offerings.

10. Can I take a tour of Grand Central Terminal?

Yes, guided tours of Grand Central Terminal are available, providing insights into its history, architecture, and hidden secrets. Check with the official website or information booth for tour details.

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