January 29, 2014

Fun Facts & Secrets About Grand Central

An iconic meeting place, the Information Booth on the Main Concourse features a circular marble and brass column at its center, containing a hidden, spiral staircase leading to the Lower Level.

 

The beautiful astronomical mural on the Main Concourse’s ceiling depicts the Mediterranean sky during the October to March zodiac, featuring 2,500 stars.  The Vanderbilt’s claimed that the image, which is actually reversed, was painted deliberately from God’s perspective.

 

Famed tight rope walker, Philippe Petit walked the length of a wire stretched high above Grand Central’s Main Concourse in 1987.

 

Oak leaves and acorns adorn the terminal because they’re a symbol of the Vanderbilt family, who financed the construction of the building.

 

In the middle of the main concourse, the famed opal clock above the information booth is valued at as much as $20 million.

 

The world’s largest Tiffany clock, measuring 14 feet, resides at the center of the sculptural group at Grand Central’s 42nd Street entrance.

 

Among its many innovations, Grand Central electrified its tracks in the early 1900s, thereby eliminating the dangers of smoke from steam powered trains and allowing train traffic and a massive train yard to sink underground.

 

Every light bulb in the Terminal is bare, in a nod to the Vanderbilt family that wanted to show off the electric power―and electric railroad―they’d financed.

 

A “whispering gallery” outside the Oyster Bar relies on brittle Guastavino tile to echo sound from one corner to another; a popular place to whisper sweet nothings across the vast expanse.

 

All clocks in the Terminal are synced to the atomic clocks of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

 

An American flag was hung on the south side of the Main Concourse after the 9/11 attacks.

 

During World War II a USO Canteen was located inside Grand Central reflecting the important role that the Terminal served as a point of departure for thousands of American troops.

 

In 1941, thousands of Brooklyn Dodgers fans gathered in Grand Central to celebrate the team’s first National League pennant in twenty one years.

 

Upon Grand Central’s completion, train traffic moved underground making ample room for expansion available and real estate developers termed the booming new neighborhood “Terminal City.”

 

Underground, Grand Central is a maze of tunnels, corridors, and shafts, and one mysterious Track 61.  This single line is a secret side rail that runs beneath Park Avenue to a private siding in the basement of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, reportedly utilized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt so he could securely and secretly travel.

 

This information was retrieved and paraphrased from Huffington Post, Untapped Cities, Gotham Magazine, Grand Central Terminal Website.