We were walking down 42nd street looking for the Grand Central Station and was in awe when we found it. It seems so strange to be sitting a mixed the tall skyscrapers. A diamond in the rouge!! It is beautiful if you like architecture.
The first rail line into New York City -- the New York and Harlem Railroad -- was formed in 1831 and began service to a terminus at Fourth Avenue and 23rd Street the following year.
While Grand Central Terminal stands today as one of New York City?s most famous landmarks, it was by no means the first railroad station in New York City.
Reborn as ?Grand Central Station,? the reconfigured depot?s most prominent feature was undoubtedly its enormous train shed. Constructed of glass and steel, the 100-foot wide by 650-foot long structure rivaled the Eiffel Tower and Crystal Palace for primacy as the most dramatic engineering achievement of the 19th century. The updated station also featured a ?classical? fa?ade, a unified 16,000 square foot waiting room, and distinctive ornamentation, including monumental cast-iron eagles with wingspans of 13-feet (In fact, one of these eagles was recently salvaged and will rise again above Grand Central Terminal?s new entrance at 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue).
Grand Central is not only the world's largest railway station (76 acres) and the nation's busiest (500,000 commuters and subway riders use it daily), it's also one of the world's greatest public spaces, after a massive four-year renovation completed in October 1998 restored the 1913 landmark to its original splendor. Guided tours are available, but I think exploring on your own is the way to go. There are maps in various locations in the terminal and it is fairly easy to find your way around.
The south side of East 42nd Street is the best vantage point from which to admire Grand Central's dramatic beaux-arts facade, which is dominated by three 75-foot-high arched windows separated by pairs of fluted columns. At the top are a graceful clock and a crowning sculpture, Transportation, which depicts Mercury flanked by Hercules and Minerva.
Doors on Vanderbilt Avenue and on East 42nd Street lead past gleaming gold- and nickel-plated chandeliers to the cavernous main concourse. This majestic space is 200 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 120 feet, roughly 12 stories high. Overhead, a celestial map of the zodiac constellations covers the robin's egg-blue ceiling, the major stars actually twinkle with fiber-optic light.
Grand Central acts as a hub of social activity as well. Excellent-quality retail shops and restaurants have taken over the mezzanine and lower levels. The highlights of the west mezzanine are Michael Jordan's-The Steak House, a gorgeous Art Deco space that allows you to dine within view of the sky ceiling as well as the gorgeously restored The Campbell Apartment, which serves cocktails. Off the main concourse at street level, there's a nice mix of specialty shops and national retailers, as well as the truly grand Grand Central Market for gourmet foods. The New York Transit Museum Store, in the shuttle passage, houses city transit-related exhibitions and a terrific gift shop that's worth a look for transit buffs. The lower dining concourse houses a stellar food court and the famous Oyster Bar & Restaurant.
Not just a busy rail station. But there are restaurants and other eateries, cocktail lounges and specialty shops.
The Terminal’s 12,000 square foot former Main Waiting Room, is the site for ongoing free promotions.
The building itself is historic and has been fully restored to it's 1913 splendour.
Well worth a visit, especially if you stop of at Junior's for some cheesecake!
Great audio tour gives you insight and detail about interesting history and facts regarding Grand Central Terminal (different from Grand Central Station, which is the name of the subway station under the Terminal).
I've traveled through this Terminal for over 3 years M-F and never really appreciated the fantastic Beaux Arts style and care of the beautiful restoration.
If you have time to plan in advance, I would also recommend you purchase a download of the tour, which you can then keep (and take down up to 4 times!) for the same price ($5) as a single rental at the Terminal tour window. Audio downloads are available at http://www.myorpheo.com/.
There are also lots of dining options there--from the food court and restaurants in the lower level, to fancier bars and restaurants in adjacent Met Life Building or along the edges of the Central lobby. If you like seafood, there is also the famous, old Oyster Bar restaurant by the ramps and the whispering arches. The best place for drinks in my opinion is the Campbell Apartment, just up the side staircase that has Cipriani and out the doors to the left. It is gorgeous, old worldy, and charming for great drinks.
Oh my god what a huge surprise Grand Central Station was. Yes its beautiful and great to walk around, the architecture and the market is worth the trip alone, but a station ? A central terminus ? Really ? I expected the hustle and bustle of 'the' central station of one of the worlds greatest cities. But I what i got was a beatiful interior filled with tourists and very few travellers. This is not a busy station at all, maybe 6 departures an hour, 80% of the staton is disused. Its light years away from intensity of most European city terminals I've used, Paris Gare Du Nord, Amsterdam, Hamburg or any London station. The quietness made it nice to walk around for sure, but it felt more like a museum than a place where people conduct any travel. I don't think I have ever been so surprised !
Hello. Boys weekend in New York was spent exploring all the great architecture, museums, restaurants and of course The Knicks! as a former resident of Manhattan some 6 years ago it was nice to be back with some buddies. Before the game we all meet at Grand Central for a quick bite before heading to the Garden. One of my buddies is an architect and wanted to know more about Grand central, it was his first time in New York City so we took an audio tour. As a history buff and former new yorker I thought it was really informative. There are all kinds of intersting facts I never realized. We got so into it we were almost late for tip off. Lots of fun. Next time I am in the city with my kids I want them to do it too.
If you happen to find yourself in midtown, take the time to detour into Grand Central Station. Restored to its old glory thanks in part to the efforts of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, this train station is a hub of activity in midtown Manhattan. You can access several subway lines as well as the commuter train to Westchester and Connecticut. The building is spectacular on its own, but the waiting room is breathtaking - don't forget to look up to see the arched ceilings covered with constellations. If you have the time, take a tour to learn more about the history of the station and to see some areas not normally accessed by the public.
There is a decent food court on the lower level, as well as public restrooms (always good to know in NYC). The Campbell Apartment on the mezzanine is a classy place to grab a cocktail and watch the dance of the commuters as they all race to wherever their next destination is. The Grand Central Marketplace is also a great place to grab some gourmet foods for a quick picnic in Bryant Park, just down the street outside of the NY Public Library (also worth seeing!).
In the winter, Grand Central hosts a winter marketplace where you can purchase unique, handcrafted gifts, as well as a holiday-themed laser light show that usually takes place every 1/2 hour.
A beautiful gem of a building, left over from when rail travel was the only way to go. It still is a working train station, but is worth visiting and admiring even if you're not traveling by rail. The main, Southern entrance, has sculptures of Mercury, Hercules, and Minerva above the world's largest Tiffany clock.
The main concourse, inside, is mostly marble and truly elegant. The four white sections of the timepiece above the Grand Central Terminal information booth are actually made of pure opal -- and have been valued between $10 to $20 million!
There are many restaurants, a food court, stores, and even the Transit Museum and Gift Shop situated throughout the massive building. (see my 'Off the Beaten Path' tip on the Central Market).
Taking the train to work is a fact of life for many New Yorkers and a half million of them pass through Grand Central Terminal every day. This Beaux-Arts masterpiece took 13 years (1903 - 1913), 80 million dollars and the demolition of 180 nearby buildings to construct. Located on the site of Cornelius Vanderbilt's smaller Grand Central Station, the vision of a new expanded railway hub came about in 1902 when a terrible fire from two colliding steam engines prompted city officials to convert to a safer, less-polluting electric system.
Hard to believe but it almost met a sorry end to the wrecking ball in the 1950s when automobile travel largely replaced long-distance rail but fortunately for us, NYC's Landmarks Preservation Commission designated it a historic landmark - under the protection of law - in 1967. Even so, the structure fell into serious neglect but was rescued through the efforts of some prominent New Yorkers. Restored to its former elegance in the 1990's, this "city within a city" provides 5 restaurants, 20 casual-dining kiosks in the lower-level food court, 50 shops and an excellent market (more on that in a separate tip) for the welcome convenience of daily commuters.
Grand Central has an excellent website with detailed history, fun facts, tour information and anything else you'd want to know about this architectural treasure so give it a look-over before you go. You can easily loiter away several hours here taking pictures of its many fascinating details and browsing the market and shops.
Grand Central Station dates back to 1913 and it is considered the largest train station in the world based on the number of platforms (44, all running underground). Back when trains were the most popular means of transportation, up to 65 million travelers would reach Grand Central Station every year. However, as cars and air travel became more popular, Grand Central Station gradually became deserted and, in the end, it was practically abandoned. Homeless people moved in, and by the time the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority leased the building in the 1990s, the station was in pretty bad shape. The MTA spent several years and millions of dollars restoring Grand Central Station to its former glory (they left a tiny spot untouched near the ceiling of the Main Concourse to show how dirty it used to be). Several thousands of commuters now pass through the station every day, and several more thousands of visitors drop by the station every day to admire its architecture or to have lunch at one of the station’s restaurants, the most famous of which probably are Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse and the Oyster Bar. Free guided tours are offered on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:30 pm.
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