Tag Archives: Grand Central Terminal

Amtrak–at Grand Central

I was going home the one day when I saw an Amtrak train on the screen. Intrigued, I walked over to the track and snapped a quick photo.

According to the conductor I talked to, there will be “a few” Amtrak trains in Grand Central until September, when all the Amtrak trains will be running from Grand Central. Grand Central will be Amtrak’s station until the Empire Tunnel is repaired, at which point Amtrak will return to the hole in the ground that is still called Penn Station although that complex was torn down in 1969.

Wonder what will happen if the Amtrak passengers like leaving from Grand Central instead of the hole in the ground?

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Another Eagle

(2014-03-04 001)This eagle, like the one at the Philipse Manor train station, is from Grand Central Depot. It is above the entrance to Grand Central Terminal at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street. I quickly snapped this picture right before I crossed the street to catch my train home one evening.

Unlike the eagle at Philipse Manor, where anyone can walk up to it, this eagle is inaccessible to people, being along the elevated Park Avenue that splits and goes around Grand Central.


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The Eagle at Philipse Manor

(2014-02-27 001)There’s an eagle at the Philips Manor train station.

Not a real one, just a statue. I took some pictures of it. It reminded me of the eagle at Grand Central, which I thought was one of the eagles rescued from the destroyed Penn Station in 1969 and moved there. However, it turns out that this eagle, which stares straight ahead with its wings outstretched, is related to that eagle, which is looking over its shoulder. Both these eagles are from the old Grand Central Depot, which was torn down in 1910 to build the current Grand Central Terminal.

There were a lot of these eagles, 12 are known but no (2014-02-27 002)one is sure how many there really were that adorned the old depot. Like a dandelion gone to seed, the old depot gave up its eagles before disappearing. These eagles have been scattered all over the metropolitan area, turning up in backyards and adorning small towns and villages. And, typically, after decades and public forgetfulness, that which is lost is rediscovered and a feeling of nostalgia sweeps over everyone. Soon there’s a movement to restore that which was lost (2014-02-27 003)or, at least in this case, two eagles returned to adorn the current Grand Central Terminal.

While I catch the train, it stands there, staring out over the train tracks. Is it guarding the station, or staring off into the past?

“Eagles on the roof. Grand Central Terminal. Part 3,” Big Apple Secrets, June 23, 2013.
“Rare Avis: an Iron Eagle Returning to City Roost,” The New York Times, June 20, 1997.

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Grand Central Terminal Tour

Grand Central (2013-09-30 016)

Grand Central Terminal

Monday night after work, I signed up for a Men Event walking tour of Grand Central. The group met at the Pershing Square Café, then headed out and onto 42nd Street. Our guide was Dave Cervini, from the New York Social Network.

Why is Grand Central a terminal and not a station? Because trains start and end in a terminal whereas a station has trains traveling through it on to other destinations. Why was the Biltmore Room once called the “Kissing Room?” Because it is the entrance and exit from a set of tracks once used to move troops during World War II. The room was where lovers and family would say their good-byes–or hellos.

Grand Central-Clock (2013-09-30 017)

The clock that crowns the Grand Central facade

This is the third Grand Central that was built. The clock is the biggest example of Tiffany glass in the world, being 13 feet around. The six on the face opens to allow adjustments and to peer down onto Park Avenue. The clock is framed with Hercules to the left, Minerva on the right, and Mercury standing above it. Oh, that statue at the front of the building where Park Avenue comes together? That’s Cornelius Vanderbilt, railroad magnet and the prime mover that got Grand Central built.

Fourth Avenue started at 42nd Street and for several city blocks behind Grand Central was the huge, uncovered train yard; there was no Park Avenue here. When it was decided to cover the train yard so that more buildings could be built, the railroad yard slowly disappeared. Once the train yard was completely covered, the new street was named Park Avenue, and the new road went around Grand Central and emptied onto what had been Fourth Avenue, now renamed Park Avenue.

I always wondered why the light fixtures were so ugly—ugly in the sense that the light bulbs were exposed with no covers. In 1913, the electric light bulb was new, and only the rich could afford them, so the new Grand Central had light fixtures displaying this symbol of power (literally and figuratively.)

The faux staircase that leads to the Apple store was not part of the original design. There was no staircase because there was no entrance. It was decided during the restoration in the 1990s to match the Lexington side of the building with the staircase leading up to Vanderbilt Avenue.

Grand Central-Tennis Court (2013-09-30 020)

The tennis court

There’s a tennis court in Grand Central. When facing the building on 42nd, it’s in the upper left corner. For $275 an hour, anyone can rent the court for however long they want. (Prices drop on Saturday nights to $125 an hour.) This was really funny. Who would have thought that a train station would have a tennis court?

The walkways are behind the decorative window. You can see figures on them

The walkways are behind the decorative window. You can see figures on them

In order to generate revenue, offices were put into the terminal as well as the selling off of the air rights above the building, which is where the Pan Am Building (now Met Life) was built. The offices in Grand Central can be reached by the corridors behind the glass windows. You can sometimes see people walking along those glass corridors.

The information booth

The information booth

The information booth with the famous clock on top where everyone meets once had no entrance; there’s a circular stairway that leads down to the lower information booth, which is where railroad workers would enter and exit. The enclosure upstairs is more recent.

The terminal clock

The terminal clock

And the clock? Southby’s has estimated that it is worth 23 million dollars.

There was a lot of information. Afterwards, some of us had a drink and socialized. It was a great tour, and lots of fun.

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