During the turn of the century, people poured into New York looking for a new life with grand hopes for financial stability. New York was a place where dreams could come true. Travelers must have felt like they were living in a dream when they stepped off the railroad platform and entered the main concourse of the Grand Central Terminal. With its soaring ceilings painted with constellations and rich architecture, I can only imagine the impression it made. As train-goers exited the building, they would have looked up to see monumental sculptures of Greek gods on the façade. Grand Central Station gave people an impression of greatness and grandeur. Sadly, most of New York’s laborers would never come to know riches (or even modest comfort), but their city’s main buildings extolled extravagance.
Reasons to Visit Grand Central Terminal
- It’s a central point (no pun intended) of Manhattan. Nearby is the New York Public Library, great shopping, the Empire State Building, and much more.
- It’s seeped in history.
- It’s a rich, architectural masterpiece.
- Even if you’re not taking a train, there are many, many shops and restaurants to check out.
- It’s free.
Grand Central History Facts
- Opened in 1871 to create a central location below 42nd street for pollutive steam engines to arrive in the city. Several of the main railroad companies agreed to share the new transit hub which would become Grand Central Terminal.
- With the need for modernization (electricity) and growth, a design competition was held in 1903 to redesign the station. The four leading firms had some well-known architects including McKim Mead & White, Daniel Burnham, Samuel Huckel, Jr. and Reed & Stem. The latter won. Reed & Stem created an airy, ornamental, vaulted ceiling palace with bronze and marble touches throughout, fabulous sculptures of gods/goddesses on the façade, and beautiful chandeliers.
- The zodiac ceiling in the cathedral ceiling Main Concourse features 12 constellations painted in gold leaf with 2500 stars.
- One of the most iconic landmarks is the Information Booth Clock in the Main Concourse, which is a popular meeting point due to its easy visibility.
- The Grand Central Terminal we know today opened its doors to the public at midnight on February 1, 1913. Its first train left 20 minutes later at 12:20 am on February 2.
- From 1922-1958, Grand Central displayed works of art at the Grand Central Art Galleries. Art within art!
- For more history, visit: https://www.grandcentralterminal.com/history/
Visiting Grand Central Terminal Today
- See about taking a tour of the terminal. https://www.grandcentralterminal.com/plan-your-visit/
- Have dinner or a cocktail in the historic station.
- Head to Grand Central Market to check out the food vendors who offer everything from spices to cheese to chocolate to pastries and more.
- Next to the Oyster Bar there are low ceramic arches which create an acoustical effect allowing you to talk to a friend in an opposing corner.
- On 42nd Street, make sure to look up and see the famed Tiffany Clock on the terminal’s façade.
For over a century, Grand Central Terminal has captivated New Yorkers and visitors to the city. Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and 42nd Street, it’s easy to find if you’re in midtown Manhattan. Next time you’re in the Big Apple, I recommend you take a walk down to historic Grand Central Terminal to take in the architecture, culture, arts, history, and maybe even a bite to eat. Happy travels!
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