Grand Central Terminal

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Hidden Gems
Hidden Gems
I’ve become familiar with the space over the years and always felt that I knew its secrets fairly well. From the whisper galleries to the tennis courts and secret bars, I’d seen it all. However, this summer I had the pleasure of joining a VIP tour of the secrets of Grand Central and needless to say, I had spoken too soon.

For the sake of the mystery I won’t divulge all of its secrets, but I will share with you a few of my favorites.

The first is the walkways that exist at three levels in the giant windows on either side of the terminal. With special permission you can walk across them and look down on the bustling main concourse below.

A more infamous secret is the existence of room M42. M42 is among the best kept secrets in New York because, for a time, it needed to be. It houses the main electricity operations of the station, including the generators for all of the tracks connecting the east coast. During WWII it was guarded closely- anyone who attempted to enter unauthorized would be shot on sight; if Nazi’s compromised the rail system they would not only shut down the transportation system, but would also cause a multitude of accidents, endangering all passengers. It wasn’t until the 1980s that its existence was even acknowledged, and M42 is still not on any blueprints. It still houses the main electric controls for the rail system, but with advances in technology, the system can no longer be used as a weapon.

Perhaps the most humorous secret is that the constellations on the ceiling of the main concourse are painted backwards; the painters laid the plans on the floor while they were working and were apparently unable to maintain the proper perspective when imposing the figures on the ceiling. According to our tour guide, this was brought to the attention of the Vanderbilts by a commuter, but they denied that it was a mistake, instead claiming that it was done on purpose as the constellations were painted from God’s view- while this is only hearsay I’m still not certain it makes any sense.

You can contact the metro transit authority to request a tour (warning: you may be denied) or go through a company such as NYC Adventure Club
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89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, USA
+1 212-340-2583
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