February 19 2020
September 11th, 2019 | Dives & Insider Spots in New York City
Known for its mystical ceiling and exquisite Beaux-Arts architecture, Grand Central Terminal is one of New York’s most famous landmarks. You may have visited it a zillion times or seen it even more often in movies, but how well do you actually know it? Take a look at these fun facts about the biggest train station in the world.
The Vanderbilt family built Grand Central in 1871. And they wanted to leave their mark. Throughout the station, you can spot small acorns engraved here and there, a symbol of the Vanderbilt family. The most famous one sits atop the Information Booth clock in the Main Concourse.
The Vanderbilt Tennis Court is located inside Grand Central in the space that was once an art gallery turned CBS recording studio. It’s open to the public!
Back in the 19th Century, Grand Central was located in what was considered Uptown. Given its importance and the heavy commuter traffic, by the early 20th Century the city had expanded toward the terminal. The surrounding area quickly developed into the hectic Midtown Manhattan.
By Chrysler Corporation and US Army - Chrysler Corporation and US Army Publicity Photo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28130380
In 1957, during the space race between the US and the Soviet Union, NASA and the US Army displayed the Redstone Missile in Grand Central Terminal, part of the military’s response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik.
Grand Central’s facade is unmistakable. The Greek-inspured sculpture of gods Mercury, Hercules, and Minerva surrounds a Tiffany glass clock, which is the largest in the world. It measures 14 feet in diameter.
The Oyster Bar was opened in 1913, the same year the terminal’s renovations to handle the increasing numbers of travelers were completed. By 1974, the restaurant was bankrupt and derelict. It was successfully reinvented and became the iconic eatery it is today.
Well, maybe not so secret anymore. There was a time when Grand Central connected directly to other surrounding buildings. The most famous passageway was from Track 61 to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt and other VIPs. It even had an elevator. Though these passageways still exist, they are unused and closed to the public.
The “secret” stairways are common knowledge. The most popular is located inside the information booth in the Main Concourse. It leads to a lower level, but it’s also closed to the public.
As you get ready to uncover more facts and hidden quirks about Grand Central, check out the best places to kill time in Grand Central.