Grand Central Terminal-Did you know...?

New York Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 9 › view all entries
Street Entrance to Grand Central Station
Did you know that Grand Central Terminal has nine interesting facts?
Well, read on...


 #1 Let's Meet at the Clock!
 Start your tour at the four-sided clock (round Information Booth) on the Main Concourse.
This is a world-famous rendezvous spot, the circular marble and brass pagoda in the center of the Main Concourse has a hidden, spiral staircase leading to the Information Booth on the Lower Level. 


#2 The Sky Ceiling: Look Up! 

The most notable feature of the Main Concourse is the great astronomical mural, from a design by the French painter Paul Helleu, painted in gold leaf on cerulean blue oil.

"Meet you by the clock"
Arching over the 80,000 square-foot Main Concourse, this extraordinary painting portrays the Mediterranean sky with October-to-March zodiac and 2,500 stars. The 60 largest stars mark the constellations and are illuminated with fiber optics, but used to be lit with 40 watt light bulbs that workers changed regularly by climbing above the ceiling and pulling the light bulbs out from above.


#3
Two Grand Staircases: Which One is New? 

In the original 1913 architectural plans there were supposed to be two grand staircases. In true Beaux-arts style, they were to be balanced, but with a few small differences. But when Grand Central was opened on February 2, 1913 there was only one staircase. Do you know which one it was? The actual reasons for eliminating the second staircase are uncertain. It is possible that Cornelius Vanderbilt simply ran out of funding, but the more likely explanation is that the builders ultimately decided that there was nothing on the East Side worth visiting or viewing.

"I hope my train is on time..:-)"
In the early years of the 20th century, the East Side had no United Nations building, no hotels, no restaurants; there were only goatherds, breweries, and industrial buildings. So the architects (Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore) decided against building the second staircase. During the current $200 million restoration the second staircase was built. Just in case you are still wondering, the staircase on the west side of the building by Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse is the original staircase and the staircase leading to Métrazur on the east side of the building is new. The Eastern balustrades are slightly less elaborate to differentiate to old from the new. Both beautiful sets of marble steps, sweeping from the Main Concourse up, are modeled after the grand staircase of the Paris Opera House.


#4
Chandeliers: Big, Beautiful and Real Gold! 

Look up and around! There are beautiful melonshaped chandeliers on both sides of the Main Concourse and several more in Vanderbilt Hall.

Main Concourse
They were always thought to have been bronze but they had been covered with dirt for many years. The chandeliers were taken down and cleaned. Remarkably, with just one cleaning the glistening gold was revealed. Note the bare light bulbs. In 1913 electricity was new and not widely used by normal households, so the New York Central Railroad wanted to give the sense of grandeur, luxury, and opulence to its train terminal, and did this by showing off the nickel and gold- plated chandeliers with electric light bulbs.


#5
Acorns and Oak Leaves: Is There a Squirrel Somewhere? 

As you walk around the building, notice the design in the stonework of the water fountains, above the entrance to the railroad tracks, in the design of the chandeliers, and in the green metal windows frames seen from the Main Concourse and Vanderbilt Hall. Why is Grand Central filled with acorns and oak leaves? Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt had a rag to riches story. He did not come from a rich family and therefore did not have a family crest as many wealthy families of the 18th century did. As Vanderbilt’s fortune grew, so did his desire for a family crest. He chose the mighty oak tree’s acorns and oak leaves, referring to the old saying “from an acorn a mighty oak shall grow!”



#6
Oyster Bar Ramps: Oysters Not Included! 

These two ramps lead down to the lower level of Grand Central joining in front of the Oyster Bar. These ramps were hidden for almost 70 years. Back in 1927, the New York Central Railroad, the operating company at that time, decided that they needed more office space so they built an eight-foot wooden ceiling over the ramps. This made the ramps dark, narrow, and gave a tunnel-like feeling as you walked down to the Lowe Level train tracks. Recently, the ramps were opened up and brought back to their original splendor.


#7 Whispering Gallery 

The Whispering Gallery, located at the end of both Oyster Bar Ramps when heading down to the Lower Level, is one of the bigger attractions in the Terminal and offers a phonic treat. Get two volunteers and put them in opposite corners facing the walls. A person can whisper into one of its corners and be distinctly heard diagonally across the gallery on the other side. Fun for all ages!



#8  (track 39/42)  Kissing Room: Do Not Take That Literally! 

This room is also called the Biltmore Room, but the “Kissing Room” is much more romantic! It was located right under the old famous Biltmore Hotel (now the Bank Of America building) and was where the famous 20th Century Limited train arrived. Celebrities, politicians, and soldiers would get off the trains to meet their loved ones and hug and kiss in the middle of the room before going up stairs into the Biltmore Hotel.


#9  “Transportation” 

Travel outside the building to see the sculpture “Transportation” by French artist Jules-Alexis Coutan that sits atop Grand Central Terminal. You will see Mercury flanked by Minerva and Hercules. Minerva is the goddess of wisdom and represents all the thought and planning put into this building. Mercury is the god of speed and represents both the speed of commerce as it grew up into midtown Manhattan from the financial district and, of course, the speed of trains. The mythological hero, Hercules, represents the strength of the men who built Grand Central. Carved out of Indiana limestone, the group stands 50 feet high and 60 feet wide, weighs 1,500 tons, and surmounts a clock 13 feet in diameter.


*****Grand Central is located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, on 42nd Street and Park Avenue.****


Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Street Entrance to Grand Central S…
Street Entrance to Grand Central …
Meet you by the clock
"Meet you by the clock"
I hope my train is on time..:-)
"I hope my train is on time..:-)"
Main Concourse
Main Concourse
New York
photo by: herman_munster