A CENTURY OLD LADY

Never make the mistake of calling her a station. She’s a Terminal. And that’s final.

Although her high-rise neighbors have dwarfed her through the years, Grand Central Terminal is still standing proudly in the heart of Manhattan. And this year, she celebrates her one hundredth birthday.

The sunbeams falling through the cathedral-like windows are guaranteed to bring an ever-changing spectacle of light and shadow.

The scene of many a movie, Grand Central has become a familiar sight. Every day, thousands of commuters and tourists alike pass through the Grand Concourse. Commuters rush and look down. Tourists freeze and look up.

With a century long history, Grand Central has some great and curious stories to tell. The clock on the front side of the building contains the largest Tiffany glass known in the world. At the time of the inauguration, the sculptures of Minerva, Hercules and Mercury formed yet another global first in terms of size: 48 feet (14,6m) tall.

When you look up to the ceiling, you see a starry sky. It’s certainly one of the distinctive features of the Terminal. Small detail: the constellation on the ceiling is not as we see it from Earth, but rather as God must be seeing it from heaven, above the stars. Get it? Some say it’s because the ceiling was based on a medieval manuscript. Others say that we should finally except that huge mistakes are from all times.

Whatever it was, we are glad we can see it. Some ten tears ago, the ceiling was dark and the images blurred by what was thought to be coal and diesel exhaust from the trains. When the cleaning team started to wash the ceiling and examine the dark sludge, it appeared to be nicotine!

There’s this special Track 61. It continues to the depths of the nearby Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It was specially built for President Roosevelt. It was said to spare him the walk from the Terminal, but even more to hide the fact that he was moving around in a wheelchair.

Grand Central is home to the famous Oyster Bar. This iconic place is a reminder of the days when New York was thriving on the oyster industry.

The Terminal is more than a transportation hub. There’s plenty of businesses and bars. It even boasts the Vanderbilt Tennis Club. The latest acquisition is an Apple Store right on the Main Concourse.

The Lady may be one hundred years old, she definitely keeps pace with modern day technology and reinvention.

 

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4 thoughts on “A CENTURY OLD LADY

  1. marc says:

    And after a visit, go and have a drink (cocktail) at the Campbell Apartment in the building itself…Formerly the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon, John W. Campbell, The Campbell Apartment has been fully-restored to its original splendor — and reborn as a chic cocktail lounge cited in the national media as one of “the best bars in America”.

  2. daramark says:

    During my childhood in Connecticut, Grand Central was practically synonymous with “The Big Apple.” It was the capacious, sometimes crowded, but always special entry to the city, a great place to meet up with friends and make the transition to urban excitement. I’m so glad she is still the grande dame of terminals.

  3. Julia gardiner says:

    Love your images and commentary Joost! Remember having a cocktail upstairs at Grand Central. I kept pinching myself- couldn’t believe I had finally made it to New York.

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