Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal, often called Grand Central Station or GCT, is located in the center of New York City's midtown Manhattan, at the intersection of 42nd Street and Park Avenue. The huge complex is virtually a city in itself, with almost 100 retail shops and services, several restaurants, an annex of the New York Transit Museum, and its own police station. The Beaux-Arts masterpiece is a favorite of visitors and residents alike as well as a vital link in the New York City transportation system.

History

Grand Central Terminal is the second railroad station to be constructed on that site. The current terminal, built by the Cornelius Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad, was completed in 1913. The massive marble staircase, the vaulted ceiling painted to resemble the zodiac and the stars in the New York sky, and its 75-foot high windows were immediately popular and the area surrounding Grand Central prospered. Hotels, skyscrapers (including the Chrysler Building), and office buildings sprang up around it.

Grand Central Station was the nation's first bi-level railway station. Although inter-city train service ended in 1991, the station still serves thousands of subway passengers as well as New York and Connecticut commuters daily.

The Restoration

Like many of the nation's rail stations, Grand Central Terminal had fallen into disrepair by the mid-1950s, replaced in large part by air travel and airports. In fact, Grand Central had become somewhat synonymous with dangerous and crime-ridden urban structures. Covered with soot and grime, the station's beauty was largely hidden. Plans for a new skyscraper to occupy the space were drawn up by several noted architects, including I. M. Pei and Marcel Breuer. New Yorkers, including a very eloquent Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, were outraged, and a grass-roots effort that led all the way to the US Supreme Court was eventually successful in saving the Terminal.

The restoration of Grand Central Terminal began in 1987 and took over 12 years and approximately $250 million to complete. The project revealed such treasures as the constellation ceiling in the main concourse, painted in 1912 by French artist Paul Cesar Helleu, obscured by black soot for years. In addition, the blackout paint, added to the front windows during World War II, was removed to restore the light and airy atmosphere to the main concourse.

Facts About Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central lends itself to hyperbole. Below are some of the more interesting facts about the structure:

  • ·Grand Central Terminal covers over 49 acres.
  • ·Approximately 125,000 commuters transit Grand Central daily.
  • In addition to commuters, over 500,000 people visit the terminal daily.
  • ·Grand Central has been featured in numerous films, including Superman, The Fisher King, North by Northwest, and Madagascar.
  • ·In 1947, Grand Central was the busiest train station in the world. Over 65 million people, roughly 40 percent of the US population, passed through its corridors.
  • ·Grand Central is the longest train station in the world, with 44 platforms and 67 tracks, divided between two underground levels.

Visiting Grand Central

Commuter Trains - Grand Central Terminal offers commuter service to Westchester, Putnam, and Duchess Counties in New York as well as Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut.

Subways - Grand Central is a major station on the Lexington Avenue line of the New York Subway.

Dining at Grand Central - Grand Central offers several dining options. The most historic and impressive of them is the New York Oyster Bar, built in 1913. The restaurant, popular with tourists and New Yorkers, is noted for its arched ceramic tiled ceiling, by Spanish artist and architect Rafael Gustavino. Other dining options include Michael Jordan's Steakhouse; Metrazur, a Mediterranean restaurant; a food court; a deli; and an extensive food market.

Taking the Tour - The Municipal Arts Society of New York sponsors a free tour each Wednesday at 1230pm, highlighting the structure's history, art, and architecture. In addition, several New York sightseeing companies offer walking tours of the Terminal and the surrounding area.

Location: at 42nd Street and Park Avenue
Phone: 212-532-4900

Click here to visit Grand Central Terminal official website.