New York City New York Grand Central Station main hall of bus and train station landmark
Bill Bachmann/© Bill Bachmann
Stepping into the enormous main concourse of this landmarked architectural jewel—with its sweeping granite staircases, hulking columns and 38-meter (125-foot) ceilings painted with night-sky constellations—can be a jaw-dropping experience. What’s even more incredible, though, is the sheer number of people who use it as a commuter hub day in and day out (more than 750,000 train and subway passengers every weekday). Wander around the shops, head down to the basement food court for a bite and to marvel at the crowds hurrying by—and if you get jostled, don’t take it personally.
Meet Me Under The Clock
Standing under the starry blue celling, this spot is the perfect place to reunite with friends, corral kids and connect with loved ones. As the literal center of the station, there’s never a dull moment waiting here. The Grand Central clock has become a star in its own right—part hollywood celebrity, historic landmark and practical meeting point. The information station at its base is incredibly helpful as well—not only with transportation info but travel tips as well... making it the perfect place to begin and end my trip!
The Whispering Gallery
If you happen upon people pressing their faces into a corner and talking to a wall, odds are they aren’t crazy– you’ve found the whispering wall! These low arches amplify the sound of your voice and move it to the opposite corner so you can hear as clearly as if you were standing next to each other. Take a quick detour downstairs (near the oyster bar) and whisper next time you’re in Grand Central station.
Art Galleries at Grand Central
If you walk behind the Magnolia Bakery in the lower level of Grand Central, you will stumble upon some unique and exceptional paper cutting/stencil artwork by Brooklyn-based Thomas Witte. Not only are the works stunning in their intricacies and detail, they feel like an installation with the backlight giving a feeling that the scene is alive. And, well, it is - you can walk upstairs and see where his inspiration came from. This should be noted in Afar’s NYC travel guide “Artistic Experiences Outside the Museums.” It’s truly a hidden gem! (Not sure how long the art will be there.) http://www.afar.com/highlights/the-art-underground--2?context=wanderlist&context_id=22311
Are We There Yet: Grand Central
Few places in the world have as many people per day pass through it in an attempt to get “there” as Grand Central Terminal. Home to a host of rail and subway lines connecting residents and tourists to their desired destinations, it’s a flurry of activity at any hour.
Grand Central Station
I love gazing at the star studded ceiling here. And if you haven’t already, check out the whispering walls on the way down to the lower concourse.
Are We There Yet?: Grand Central
The four sided opal clock atop the information booth in the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station in Manhattan is one of the most famous meeting places in the city. Grab a time table and your partner in crime and you’re off!
Sunday Afternoon At Grand Central Terminal
A mid-town New York historic treasure, Grand Central Terminal is home to commuter trains, Amtrak lines and connections to the New York Subway. This picture taken from the east balcony offers a quiet perch above the busy hub that close to 1 million people pass through on any given day.
Always an experience to take in when visiting the Big Apple, this grand dame of train stations is a hive of activities.
There is no longer AMTRAK service into Grand Central. The NYC Transit Museum branch in the station is excellent
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