This past week over 1,000,000 people walked through this main concourse on the way to celebrate the “Thanksgiving” holiday with their family and loved ones. Grand Central Station (Terminal) is one of the largest long-distance rail stations in the world due to its 44 platforms, serving 67 tracks. It’s a grand symbol of the constant hustle and bustle New York City is known for. A popular meeting spot that’s easy to find is the main information booth, in the center of the main concourse. The famous four-faced brass clock designed by Henry Edward Bedford sits on top of the booth. The four clock faces are made of opal glass, and legend goes that both Sotheby’s and Christie’s estimated the value of the four clock faces to be worth up to 20 million dollars. (Don’t get any funny ideas now) While we are on the time topic, every single departure time shown on the boards is marked 1 minute earlier than the train’s actual departure time. For example, if the board list 10:20 departure, the train will leave at 10:21. A safe way to get commuters to make their trains on time.
Grand Central Depot as it was originally called, commissioned by tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, “An American business magnate and philanthropist who built his wealth in railroad and shipping” opened for business in 1871. During this time, the busy high traffic 42nd street we know today was quiet and undeveloped. By 1900 the city required a more suiting station that would be able to handle the vast growth in commuters it was experiencing.
Grand Central was re-designed by a group of “Associated Architect Firms”; Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem to accommodate the station’s new demands. They commissioned Parisian artist Sylvain Salieres to design bronze and stone carvings including sculpted acorns and oak leaves, symbols representing the Vanderbilt family. The marble floors were imported from Tennessee, the walls are made of imitation Caen stone with Botitticino marble trimming. The Grand Central Station we are familiar with unveiled its doors in 1913. The new re-modeled station helped the neighborhood’s growth stimulation. Thanks to the “air rights” bill, Grand Central developers were able to lease out the property to hotels, shops, restaurants, office towers, and use for residential development, making Grand Central the center of a remarkable urban oasis.
101 years will take its toll physically on anyone, including the station. In 1998 Grand Central’s 12-year renovation was completed; including the restoration of the zodiac ceiling, which was almost unnoticeable due to all the smoke stains caused by indoor smoking. One small patch was left soiled, as a warning against smoking and to show what it will do to your lungs. If you look up towards the northwest (no, not Kim, and Kanye’s baby- focus!) corner of the ceiling you will be able to spot it next to the Cancer sign (crab). With the addition of new staircases like the marble one that leads us up to the apple store (yes, there is an apple store in Grand Central, a very convenient place indeed), elevators, ramps, and the expansion of the space for new shops and restaurants.
On your next subway trip through Grand Central take a moment to walk around and appreciate the beauty of its architecture and history. Check out the historic Oyster Bar, and the Whispering Gallery; where two people can whisper from opposing diagonal arches and hear each other (located right across from the bar). You can also visit the many shops spread out through the hallways and the Holiday Fair in the Vanderbilt Hall, showcasing some of the best artisan gifts in NYC-maybe you will find that perfect gift for that special someone you’ve been looking for.
Cheers to the beginning of Holiday travels and to 100 more years of Grand Central!
Photos By: Aesthetnik