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History of Grand Central Station – Meet at the Cross Roads in NYC

Grand Central Station is one of the greatest, most used landmarks of Manhattan. And the largest train station in the world. New York Central Railroad was the original name when Cornelius ‘Commodore’ Vanderbilt added railroad to his holdings. And has gone through many renovations and restoration to be the sixth most visited tourist attraction in the world.

history of grand central station
Grand Central Station

Bet there is a lot more you didn’t know about Grand Central Station.

Fun Information about the History of Grand Central Station

  • Grand Central Terminal opened its doors midnight on February 2, 1913.

  • The terminal has 44 platforms and 67 tracks.

history of grand central station
Hall inside Grand Central Station
  • It was the third station built at 42nd St.

  • It was preceded by Grand Central Depot (1871) and Grand Central Station (1900), both of which were demolished.

  • Soon after Cornelius Vanderbilt acquired the Hudson River Railroad, he added the New York Central Railroad to his holdings. He created a rail-link between Spuyten Duyvil and Mott Haven, allowing Hudson River trains to arrive at a common east side terminal.

  • Vanderbilt purchased property between 42nd and 48th streets, Lexington and Madison Avenue for construction of a new train depot and rail yard. It was on this site that would rise the first Grand Central.

  • Grand Central Depot, designed by John B. Snook, was built at a cost of $6.4 M. Virtually obsolete at the time it opened, 1871.

  • A catastrophic train collision on January 8, 1902 in the smoke-filled Park Avenue tunnel killed fifteen and injured thirty-eight, causing a public outcry and increasing demand for electric trains.

  • It took ten expensive years of excavation and construction. The railroad needed to invest in electrifying its rails, and carve deep into Manhattan’s bedrock.

  • Croatian nationalists planted a bomb in one of the lockers on Sept. 11, 1976. It was improperly disarmed, resulting in the death of an NYPD officer and 30 injuries.

  • Renovations in the 90’s required that the original Tennessee marble quarry be reopened to build a staircase on the east side of the concourse that would match that on the west side.

  • Restorers completed a 12-year project in 1998 that cleaned decades of grime from the ceiling.

  • Proud that it was the first all-electric station, architects filled it with light bulbs (a novelty at the time). In 2008, workers began the switch to fluorescents. This saves an estimated $200,000 per year.

  • As of 2011, it’s the world’s 6th most visited tourist attraction (with over 21.5 million visitors each year)

  • Now 750,000 visitors pass through daily.

  • Perhaps the terminal’s best-known feature, the celestial ceiling of the main concourse depicts the zodiac.

  • The clock has four faces made of opal, estimated at a value of $10-20 million.

  • Another clock, outside on the 42nd St. facade, is the world’s largest example of Tiffany glass.

  • The Oyster Bar has been a Grand Central staple since the terminal’s opening.

  • It’s the second busiest station in the system.

  • It remains the largest train station in the world, by number of platforms (44)

  • There’s a “secret” platform, number 61, under the station: “This was used only once to convey President Franklin D. Roosevelt directly into the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.”

grand central station
Grand Central Station Main Concourse

 

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