Grand Central Terminal
Living History of Way More than a Railroad
The Grand Central Terminal in New York City has now been in use for more than 100 years. Most of us mistakenly call it Grand Central Station, but it is technically a terminal, because it is at the beginning of the Metro North Railroad. The iconic homage to the era of heavy rail, which, even though its intended purpose was mostly lost to automobiles and buses and subways - still stands today, largely because of the historical attraction that it has become. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis with the help of the Municipal Art Society of New York, spearheaded a campaign to save it from demise in the 1970s, and Grand Central was transformed to the marble mecca of fabulous-ness it is today thanks to a major remodeling and clean up project in the 1990's. The terminal is still in use - both as a start/end point for commuters on the Metro North Railroad and for subway riders taking the grand central line. But it is much more than a train station or subway stop. Aside from the incredible work of architectural genius that it is, the terminal is loaded with fun facts and phenomena (secret passages, whispering walls), is a shopping experience beyond no other and it provides public space of huge proportions, both for spontaneous events (think "flash mob") and for tourists and weary travelers (and, yes - homeless) to stop and rest a spell.
I remember my first time there. I was in my early twenties with a group from college on spring break. We took the subway with all our luggage to Grand Central Terminal so we could re-group and figure out where we were going from there. With my little group of young southerners, clueless, in this huge world of marble and awe - I felt humbled and excited and somehow other-worldly at the same time. Everybody seemed so sure of themselves. Even the homeless seemed to have an edge. Lost in the city, Grand Central Terminal was like a giant protective umbrella of stone. "if you can stand beneath my walls, I will help you get to where you need to go" it seemed to say to me.
Celebrating the anniversary of 100 years of continuous service and providing safe passage for more than rail....
Fun Times at Grand Central - Flash Mobs and More!
These are not all "Flash Mobs", but are still fun celebrations of the space and joy that happens when people congregate at Grand Central Station (or Terminal as it is officially called)
The other thing these vids do is show you life at Grand Central Terminal on any typical day at any typical time. Have fun!
Love Train Flash Mob
Zodiac on the Ceiling
Some say it was a mistake, others that it was supposed to be backwards. When looking up at the ceiling in Grand Central, you're actually looking at a mirror image of the October Zodiac. Those who deny it was a mistake claim it's so we can see the sky the way God sees it.
The Sky is Backwards? - Zodiac is a God's Eye View
Drug-Free Mood Enhancer
The Plight of the Homeless at Grand Central
New York's homeless residents have been in and out of the terminal since its beginning. Every few years the situation becomes out of hand and someone manages to send them on their way. Other than the fact that it is a public space, I can see other reasons it is such a draw for the downtrodden. The homeless person might feel more comfortable among the arched and high starlit ceilings - where one's spirit can rise and dance above, while they find a safe place for their body to rest. Metro North Railroad claims they are not a provider of social services, and that the homeless are not welcome there. I find myself in a bit of disagreement with that argument, however.
Is Grand Central not a popular place for flash mobs? Is that not "social"? And what about the designers and architects of the terminal? According to Jessica Halem of the Municipal Art Society, it was intended for the ordinary person to feel like they were in a cathedral. Also, is there not something spookily "social" about whispering walls? And what about the secret passage line for presidents and other V.I.P.'s? If they need their own private route, then who are they getting "away" from if the Grand Central Terminal is not "social"? Is Central Park too snooty to deny the homeless access in fair weather? So where can they get away from the cold if not here? The space is leased by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, who is defined as a "Public Benefit Corporation". Hello.
New York City, to the rest of the country (and perhaps the world) is a microcosm - a sort of representation of the United States...and Grand Central Terminal is like a microcosm of New York City. How we treat our homeless is part of that vision. Ideally, of course, we would have no homeless. But, since we do, we must deal with the issue rather than hide them away as if they do not exist.
It is my experience that we can co-exist with those who find themselves in the state of no place to go. The most difficult issue for those who end up in the presence of a homeless person is generally the fact that they often do not smell so good. I think there is a high-end gym or racquet club owned by the Donald somewhere in the 48 acre complex of Grand Central Terminal. How about this? Instead of kicking them out from two to five am when the terminal closes, offer them a shower and a clean change of clothes. If they were allowed to clean up, they would more likely go un noticed, which, from what I understand, is what most of them really want anyway. At the very least, their presence could be better tolerated. We treat animals in the zoo better than we treat our homeless. I know it is not up to the transit authority to take care of them, but since they are part of the public, and the space is "social", turning them out may not be the best bet either.
It is an ambassador to the great city, and therefore to the USA. How Grand Central keeps its purpose
What is "Social" Anyway?
Definition of social (adj)
[ soshel ]
1. relating to society: relating to human society and how it is organized
2. relating to interaction of people: relating to the way in which people in groups behave and interact
3. living in a community: living or preferring to live as part of a community or colony rather than alone
What Do you Think? - Should the Homeless be Allowed in Grand Central Terminal?
You've heard my side - let's talk about it! What is your opinion?
Should the Homeless be Allowed in the Terminal?
Into the Fray - Grand Central Station
It did transform America, and it it's own way, it still does.
It is no easy feat cramming millions of people a year into 48 acres of mall. How they did it and still made it the incredible piece of art as architecture that is is!
Secret Passageway - Roosevelt's Private Car
The track leads to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where President Franklin Roosevelt stayed when in New York. Some say the private car and secret tunnel were built to protect his privacy, others that he was hiding the fact that he had Polio.
Andy Warhol's Painted Car at Grand Central Terminal
Great Oaks from Tiny Acorns Grow
The Terminal was built and financed by the Vanderbilt family, whose motto is represented throughout the Terminal. Whenever you see an acorn, you know it's part of their legacy - truly representative of the American Dream, as Cornelius Vanderbilt started out with very little himself!
Shh It's a Secret - Whispering gallery
I can talk to you from across the room, and no one will hear but you!
Strange feat of engineering makes the architecture work as a carrier of whispers.
- just outside the Oyster Bar. If you whisper into a corner it can be heard by someone in a corner across the way.
Fun Facts - The Truth about GCS
Why Trains Run on Time - At Grand Central Terminal
If you get to your train one minute late at Grand Central Station, no worries - you're actually right on time! All departure times are listed one minute ahead of schedule to give your feet more time to get there!
By the way, this clock is a rare treasure - the four faces are made of solid Opal. The departure times may be one minute fast, but the clock has Swiss motors and is very accurate.
Ewww! - One Tile Left Unclean
During the big renovation in the 1990's, they left this tile unchanged so that we could appreciate the drastic difference. Most of the stains were from years of cigarette smoke. This shows what a huge project it was to clean it up!
More Awesome stories on the 100th Birthday of Grand Central - And more info
- Grand Central Terminal :: Guess Who is Turning 100?
While Grand Central Terminal is one of the nations most historical landmarks, it has remained the busiest train station in the country. Today, people from all over come to visit, shop and take a public tour of Grand Central.
- Grand Central, A Cathedral For Commuters, Celebrates 100 : NPR
The largest railroad terminal in the world opened its doors for the first time in 1913. And while Grand Central Terminal, in the heart of New York City, no longer serves long-distance trains, it is still a vibrant part of the city's ecosystem.
- Grand Central Terminal
Fun facts and Trivia on Grand Central Terminal
- Grand Central Food Program | Coalition for the Homeless
Coalition for the Homeless at Grand Central Terminal
- 10 Secrets of Grand Central Terminal (Photos) | New York City | United States | Epoch Times
Here are 10 of the most intriguing secrets of the largest train terminal in the world–The Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
Thanks for visiting!