10 Things You Didn't Know About Grand Central Terminal
August 15th, 2018
If you’re a resident at 41 Park Avenue or at 20 Park Avenue, there’s a good chance you can see Grand Central Terminal from your home. This incredible piece of NYC history isn’t just a very busy train station. It’s also home to more history than you can imagine. You might pass through her doors every day, but we bet you didn’t know these ten facts about Grand Central Station! You’ve Been Calling It The Wrong Thing: Yeah, we’re guilty of this too, even in this very blog post. Colloquially, we call it Grand Central Station but the proper name is actually Grand Central Terminal. That said, the subway stations that run through Grand Central Terminal are technically stations, so if you’re traveling by subway, you’re basically right. There’s also a post office right next door which bears the iconic name. Stairless Revolution: This gorgeous train station is actually incredibly progressive for something constructed in 1871. It’s impressively handicap accessible and easy to walk around. You can reach almost anywhere in the station without having to navigate stairs. Not only is this great for the differently abled, it’s also a breeze for commuters lugging around rolling suitcases. Ramps are awesome. She’s Got Her Secret Ways: Like all great old ladies, she’s got her secret ways. Like most iconic structures in NYC, Grand Central has a few hidden features. Most notably is M42, the secret sub-basement which contains a whole ton of critical electrical equipment. In fact, it was even the target of a secret mission during the Second World War in which German agents unsuccessfully attempted to sabotage it. Had they succeeded in their mission, allied troop movements would have been severely harmed. ...And Her Mistakes: The grand old terminal may be a masterpiece of architecture, but she’s definitely not perfect. If you’ve ever looked up while passing through, there’s a solid chance you’ve noticed the astronomical mural of the night sky. While it basically depicts the Mediterranean sky during the October to March zodiac, there are more than a few errors. An amatuer stargazer noticed that the sky is actually reversed, and the stars are slightly misplaced! One Very Fancy Clock: You might think that Rolex that adornes your wrist is impressive, but it’s nothing compared to what Grand Central is sporting. The iconic four-faced clock that stands in the middle of the terminal was created by Henry Edward Bedford and features a massive amount of super pricey opalescent (or tiffany) glass. Historical value notwithstanding, the clock itself has been estimated to be worth ten to twenty million dollars. That’s One Busy Information Booth: Most of us have worked at a job where we have to answer the same questions over and over at some point. Did it drive you a little crazy? Well, then you probably don’t want to work at the information booth at Grand Central Terminal. The workers there answer on average 1000 questions per hour every day. If they work a there 8 hours a day, 52 weeks a year that adds up to almost half-a-million questions a year. Patience is a must in this job. More Than A Train Station: Most people would agree that Grand Central is a magnificent work of art, but did you know that it was once home to an art school? That’s right. Starting in 1922 Grand Central Terminal played host to the iconic Grand Central Art Galleries. Beautiful works of art were sold there and thousands of great artists received an education. In 1958 the school and the gallery were moved to the Biltmore Hotel, and eventually the whole thing was shut down. They should have stayed in the terminal! Home to 700’s Favorite NYC Food Spot: If you’ve explored Grand Central in search of a place to eat, you’ve surely come across the famous Oyster Bar located on the lower concourse. This Oyster Bar opened in 1913, when the expansion was completed and has an appropriately storied history. In fact, it was even mentioned in Ian Fleming’s James Bond Short Story '007 in New York' where the spy dines there and reflects: :...it was the finest food since bouillabaisse, which he had eaten before the war with Marthe de Brandt in Marseille." She Truly Lives Up To Her Name: Did you know that the terminal was mostly torn down in 1903? It turns out she just wasn’t big enough. A massive expansion was completed in 1913. Considering that Grand Central Terminal in its current state is over 100 years old, one might think that something bigger and better would have come along. Not so. She’s still the absolute largest train station in the entire world, featuring countless tracks, platforms, and access points. You just can’t top NYC. Here to Stay: Grand Central Terminal has certainly experienced some highs and lows. Millions have passed through her doors, and on multiple occasions she has been threatened with demolition or replacement. Still she remains steadfast in her place and in the minds of New Yorkers and people across the world. Next time someone says, “It’s like Grand Central Station in here!” tell them a few of the fascinating facts about the great old terminal that you learned today.