Grand Central Terminal

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Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal logo 2.png
Metro-North Railroad terminal
Image-Grand central Station Outside Night 2.jpg
Grand Central Terminal, New York 2017 45.jpg
USA-NYC-Grand Central Terminal Clock.jpg
GCT in Blizzard of 2015.jpg
Clockwise from top left: 42nd Street facade; underground train shed and tracks; Main Concourse; iconic clock atop the information booth
Location89 East 42nd Street (at Park Avenue)
Manhattan, New York City
Owned by

Operated by
Line(s) Park Avenue Tunnel (Hudson Line)
Platforms44: 43 island platforms, 1 side platform
(6 tracks with Spanish solution)
Tracks67: 56 passenger tracks (30 on upper level, 26 on lower level)
43 in use for passenger service
11 sidings
Connections MTA New York City Subway:
NYCS-bull-trans-4-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-5-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-6d-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-7d-Std.svg NYCS-bull-trans-S-Std.svg trains
at Grand Central–42nd Street
Aiga bus trans.svg NYCT Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M42, M101, M102, M103, Q32
NYCT Bus, MTA Bus, Academy Bus: express services
Platform levels2
Disabled accessAccessible [N 1]
Other information
Website Official website Blue pencil.svg
Key dates
Opened February 2, 1913
Passengers (FY 2017)66,952,732 Annually, based on weekly estimate [2] (Metro-North)
Preceding station MTA NYC logo.svg Metro-North Railroad Following station
Terminus Harlem Line Harlem–125th Street
towards Wassaic
Hudson Line Harlem–125th Street
towards Poughkeepsie
New Haven Line Harlem–125th Street
Former / future services
Preceding station New York Central Railroad Following station
Former services
125th Street
toward Chicago
Main LineTerminus
125th Street
toward Peekskill
Hudson Division
125th Street
toward Chatham
Harlem Division
New York Central & Hudson River Railroad
110th Street
Until 1906
toward Peekskill
Hudson Division Terminus
86th Street
Until 1903
toward Chatham
Harlem Division
59th Street
toward Chatham
Preceding station New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Following station
TerminusMain Line Harlem–125th Street
toward New Haven
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Amtrak services to Grand Central Terminal
Preceding station MTA NYC logo.svg LIRR Following station
Future services
Terminus City Terminal Zone
Under construction
towards Long Island
Grand Central Terminal
Interactive map highlighting Grand Central Terminal
Architect Reed and Stem;
Warren and Wetmore
Architectural style Beaux-Arts
NRHP reference # 75001206
83001726 (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 17, 1975
August 11, 1983 (increase) [3]
Designated NHLDecember 8, 1976 [4]
Designated NYCLAugust 2, 1967 [5]
Designated NYCLSeptember 23, 1980 (interior) [6]

Grand Central Terminal (GCT; also referred to as Grand Central Station [N 2] or simply as Grand Central) is a commuter rail terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Grand Central is the southern terminus of the Metro-North Railroad's Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, serving the northern parts of the New York metropolitan area. It also contains a connection to the New York City Subway at Grand Central–42nd Street station. The terminal is the third-busiest train station in North America, after New York Penn Station and Toronto Union Station.

Commuter rail passenger rail transport service that primarily operates between a city center, and the middle to outer suburbs

Commuter rail, or suburban rail, is a passenger rail transport service that primarily operates within a metropolitan area, connecting commuters to a central city from adjacent suburbs or commuter towns. Generally commuter rail systems are considered heavy rail, using electrified or diesel trains. Distance charges or zone pricing may be used.

42nd Street (Manhattan) West-east street in Manhattan, New York

42nd Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, running primarily in Midtown Manhattan and Hell's Kitchen. The street is the site of some of New York's best known buildings, including the headquarters of the United Nations, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library Main Branch, Times Square, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The street is known for its theaters, especially near the intersection with Broadway at Times Square, and as such is also the name of the region of the theater district near that intersection.

Park Avenue North-south avenue in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York

Park Avenue is a wide New York City boulevard which carries north and southbound traffic in the borough of Manhattan. For most of the road's length in Manhattan, it runs parallel to Madison Avenue to the west and Lexington Avenue to the east. Park Avenue's entire length was formerly called Fourth Avenue; the title still applies to the section between the Bowery and 14th Street. The avenue is called Union Square East between 14th and 17th Streets, and Park Avenue South between 17th and 32nd Streets.


The distinctive architecture and interior design of Grand Central Terminal's station house have earned it several landmark designations, including as a National Historic Landmark. Its Beaux-Arts design incorporates numerous works of art. Grand Central Terminal is one of the world's ten most visited tourist attractions, [7] with 21.9 million visitors in 2013, excluding train and subway passengers. [8] The terminal's main concourse is often used as a meeting place, and is especially featured in films and television. Grand Central Terminal contains a variety of stores and food vendors, including a food court on its lower-level concourse.

Station building main building of a passenger railway station

A station building, also known as a head house, is the main building of a passenger railway station. It is typically used principally to provide services to passengers.

National Historic Landmark formal designation assigned by the United States federal government to historic buildings and sites in the United States

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

Beaux-Arts architecture Expresses the academic neoclassical architectural style

Beaux-Artsarchitecture was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century. It drew upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporated Gothic and Renaissance elements, and used modern materials, such as iron and glass. It was an important style in France until the end of the 19th century. It also had a strong influence on architecture in the United States, because of the many prominent American architects who studied at the Beaux-Arts, including Henry Hobson Richardson, John Galen Howard, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan.

Grand Central Terminal was built by and named for the New York Central Railroad; it also served the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and, later, successors to the New York Central. Opened in 1913, the terminal was built on the site of two similarly named predecessor stations, the first of which dates to 1871. Grand Central Terminal served intercity trains until 1991, when Amtrak began routing its trains through nearby Penn Station. The East Side Access project, which will bring Long Island Rail Road service to a new station beneath the terminal, is expected to be completed in late 2022.

New York Central Railroad defunct American Class I railroad

The New York Central Railroad was a railroad primarily operating in the Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic regions of the United States. The railroad primarily connected greater New York and Boston in the east with Chicago and St. Louis in the Midwest along with the intermediate cities of Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit. New York Central was headquartered in New York City's New York Central Building, adjacent to its largest station, Grand Central Terminal.

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Former US railroad

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, commonly known as the New Haven, was a railroad that operated in the New England region of the United States from 1872 to 1968, dominating the region's rail traffic for the first half of the 20th century.

Amtrak Intercity rail operator in the United States

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities.

Grand Central covers 48 acres (19 ha) and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world. Its platforms, all below ground, serve 30 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower. Of these, 43 tracks are in use for passenger service; two dozen more serve as a rail yard and sidings. Another eight tracks and four platforms are being built on two new levels deep underneath the existing station as part of East Side Access.

Railway platform fixed structure to allow people to board or alight trains

A railway platform is an area alongside a railway track providing convenient access to trains. Almost all stations have some form of platform, with larger stations having multiple platforms.

Rail yard location for storing and sorting railroad cars

A rail yard, railway yard or railroad yard is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading and unloading, railroad cars and locomotives. Railroad yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock stored off the mainline, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic. Railroad cars are moved around by specially designed yard switchers, a type of locomotive. Cars in a railroad yard may be sorted by numerous categories, including railway company, loaded or unloaded, destination, car type, or whether they need repairs. Railroad yards are normally built where there is a need to store cars while they are not being loaded or unloaded, or are waiting to be assembled into trains. Large yards may have a tower to control operations.

Siding (rail) type of railway track

A siding, in rail terminology, is a low-speed track section distinct from a running line or through route such as a main line or branch line or spur. It may connect to through track or to other sidings at either end. Sidings often have lighter rails, meant for lower speed or less heavy traffic, and few, if any, signals. Sidings connected at both ends to a running line are commonly known as loops; those not so connected may be referred to as single-ended or dead-end sidings, or stubs.


Grand Central Terminal was named by and for the New York Central Railroad, which built the station and its two precursors on the site. It has "always been more colloquially and affectionately known as Grand Central Station", the name of its immediate precursor [9] [10] [N 2] that operated from 1900 [12] until 1910 [13] and which also shares its name with the nearby U.S. Post Office station at 450 Lexington Avenue [14] and, colloquially, with the Grand Central–42nd Street station next to the terminal. [15]

450 Lexington Avenue skyscraper in New York City

450 Lexington Avenue is a 38-story office building located on Lexington Avenue between East 44th and East 45th streets, in Manhattan. The building, which was built in 1992, is clad in Sardinian gray granite and features a repeating diamond motif that highlights the building setbacks and its crown.

Grand Central–42nd Street station New York City Subway station complex in Manhattan

Grand Central–42nd Street is a major station complex of the New York City Subway. Located in Midtown Manhattan at 42nd Street between Madison and Lexington Avenues, it is the second busiest station in the 424-station system, with 44,928,488 passengers in 2017; only the Times Square station complex has more riders. It serves trains on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the IRT Flushing Line and the 42nd Street Shuttle, and lies next to and beneath Grand Central Terminal, which serves all Metro-North Railroad lines east of the Hudson River.


Commuter rail

Grand Central Terminal serves some 67 million passengers a year, more than any other Metro-North station. [2] [16] At morning rush hour, a train arrives at the terminal every 58 seconds. [17]

Three of Metro-North's five main lines terminate at Grand Central: [18]

Through these lines, the terminal serves Metro-North commuters traveling to and from the Bronx in New York City; Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York; and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. [18]

Connecting services

The New York City Subway's adjacent Grand Central–42nd Street station serves these routes: [15]

These MTA Regional Bus Operations buses stop near Grand Central: [1] [19]

Former services

The terminal and its predecessors were designed for intercity service, which operated from the first station building's completion in 1871 until Amtrak ceased operations in the terminal in 1991. Through transfers, passengers could connect to all major lines in the United States, including the Canadian , the Empire Builder , the San Francisco Zephyr , the Southwest Limited , the Crescent , and the Sunset Limited under Amtrak. Destinations included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, New Orleans, Chicago, and Montreal. [20] Another notable former train was New York Central's 20th Century Limited , a luxury service that operated to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station between 1902 and 1967 and was among the most famous trains of its time. [21] [22]

From 1971 to 1991, all Amtrak trains using the Empire Corridor terminated at Grand Central; Northeast Corridor trains used Penn Station. [23] Notable Amtrak services at Grand Central included the Lake Shore , Empire Service , Ethan Allen Express , Adirondack , Niagara Rainbow , Maple Leaf , and Empire State Express . [24] [25] [26]

Planned services

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to bring Long Island Rail Road commuter trains to a new station beneath Grand Central as part of its East Side Access project. [27] The project will connect the terminal to the railroad's Main Line, [28] which connects to all of the LIRR's branches and almost all of its stations. [29] As of 2018, service is expected to begin in late 2022. [30] [31]


Grand Central Terminal was designed and built with two main levels for passengers: an upper for intercity trains and a lower for commuter trains. This scheme, devised by New York Central vice president William J. Wilgus, separated intercity and commuter-rail passengers, smoothing the flow of people in and through the station. After intercity service ended in 1991, [32] the upper level was renamed the Main Concourse and the lower the Dining Concourse. [32] [33]

The original plan for Grand Central's interior was designed by Reed and Stem, with some work by Whitney Warren of Warren and Wetmore. [34] [35]

Grand Central Terminal's 48-acre (19 ha) basements are among the largest in the city. [36]

Main Concourse

Midday pedestrian traffic in the Main Concourse Grand Central Terminal celing view.jpg
Midday pedestrian traffic in the Main Concourse
Two of the concourse's ten chandeliers lowered for cleaning, 2013 GCT 2358 (8411806980).jpg
Two of the concourse's ten chandeliers lowered for cleaning, 2013

The Main Concourse, originally known as the Express Concourse, is located on the upper platform level of Grand Central, in the geographical center of the station building. Usually filled with bustling crowds and often used as a meeting place, [37] the cavernous concourse measures 275 ft (84 m) long by 120 ft (37 m) wide (about 35,000 square feet total [38] ) by 125 ft (38 m) high. [39] [40] [41] :74 Its vastness was meant to evoke the terminal's "grand" status. [34]

The Main Concourse contains an elliptical barrel-vaulted ceiling. Original plans called for the ceiling to contain a skylight, but this was not practical. [42] Instead, the ceiling contains an elaborately decorated mural of constellations. [43] [44] [45] The celestial mural was conceived in 1912 by architect Warren and painter Paul César Helleu, and executed by Brooklyn's Hewlett-Basing Studio. [46] [47] The ceiling contains several astronomical inaccuracies: the stars within some constellations appear correctly as they would from earth, other constellations are reversed left-to-right, as is the overall arrangement of the constellations on the ceiling. Though the astronomical inconsistencies were noticed promptly by a commuter in 1913, [48] they have not been corrected in any of the subsequent renovations of the ceiling. [49] [44] Suspended from other portions of the ceiling are ten globe-shaped chandeliers in the Beaux-Arts style, each of which weighs 800 pounds (360 kg) [50] and contains 110 bulbs. [51]

The concourse is lit by these chandeliers and by large windows in its east and west walls. [52] Each wall has three round-arched windows, about 60 feet (18 m) high, [44] identical in size and shape to the three on the terminal's south facade. [6] Catwalks, used mostly for maintenance, run across the east and west windows. [53] [54] Their floors are made of semi-transparent rock crystal, cut two inches thick. [55]

The ticket booths are located in the Main Concourse, although many have been closed or repurposed since the introduction of ticket vending machines. The concourse's large American flag was installed there a few days after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. [37] [11]

The upper-level tracks are reached from the Main Concourse or from various hallways and passages branching off from it. [56]

The Main Concourse is surrounded on most of its sides by balconies. The east side is occupied by an Apple Store, while the west side is occupied by the Italian restaurant Cipriani Dolci (part of Cipriani S.A.), the Campbell Palm Court, and the Campbell Bar, a former financier's office-turned-bar. [56] The balconies may be reached by the concourse's West Stairs, original to the station, or the matching East Stairs, added during a 1990s renovation. [44] [57] Underneath the east and west balconies are entrances to Grand Central's passageways, with shops and ticket machines along the walls. This area also features two intricately carved marble water fountains. The fountains, original to the terminal, still operate and are cleaned daily, though they are rarely used. [58]

Information booth and clock

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The Main Concourse information booth (left) and the Dining Concourse information booth (right). The two are connected by a spiral staircase.

The 18-sided main information booth — originally the "information bureau" — is in the center of the concourse. Its attendants provide train schedules and other information to the public; [59] in 2015, they fielded more than 1,000 questions an hour, according to an MTA spokesman. [60] A door within the marble and brass pagoda conceals a spiral staircase down to a similar booth on the station's Dining Concourse. [61] [62] [60]

The booth is topped by a four-faced brass clock that may be Grand Central's most recognizable icon. [52] The clock was designed by Henry Edward Bedford, cast in Waterbury, Connecticut, [37] and designed by the Self Winding Clock Company and built by the Seth Thomas Clock Company, along with several other clocks in the terminal. [63] [11] Each 24-inch (61 cm) face [61] is made from opalescent glass, now often called opal glass or milk glass. (Urban legend says the faces are actually opal, valued by Sotheby's or Christie's between $10 million and $20 million. [54] ) The clock was first stopped for repairs in 1954, after it was found to be losing a minute or two per day. [64]

Along with the rest of the New York Central Railroad system's clocks, it was formerly set to a clock in the train dispatcher's office at Grand Central. [65] Through the 1980s, they were set to a master clock at a workshop in Grand Central. [66] Since 2004, they have been set to the United States Naval Observatory's atomic clock, accurate to a billionth of a second. [67] [60]

Departure and gate boards

The terminal's primary departure board is located on the south side of the concourse, installed directly atop the two sets of ticket windows. Colloquially known as the "Big Board", it shows the track and status of arriving and departing trains. [68] [69]

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1913–1967 blackboard
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1967–1985 Solari board
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1985–1996 Omega board
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1996–2019 LCD board
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2019 LED replacement

There have been five departure boards used over the terminal's history: the 1913–1967 chalkboard, the 1967–1985 Solari board, the 1985–1996 Omega board, the 1996–2019 LCD board, and the 2019 fully digital display. Beginning in 1913, train arrival and departure information was hand-chalked on a blackboard in the Biltmore Room. In 1967, the blackboard was supplanted by an electromechanical display in the main concourse over the ticket windows; [70] [71] the original chalkboard remains as a relic in the Biltmore Room. The new display was dubbed a Solari board after its Italian manufacturer Solari di Udine  [ it ]. It displayed train information on rows of flip panels that made a distinctive flapping sound as they rotated to reflect changes. [68] [69] That sign was replaced in 1985 with the Omega board, named after its manufacturer, watchmaker Omega SA (though designed and installed by Advanced Computer Systems of Dayton, Ohio). [72] In July 1996, during the terminal's renovation, the board was again removed, to be replaced with a liquid-crystal display, installed several months later. [71] This board replicated the analog look of the older boards, and was the first installed over both the east and the west ticket offices. [73] From March to September 2019, [74] the boards were again replaced, this time with LED video wall screens, [73] [75] [76] [74] The new displays were designed by the MTA and New York's State Historic Preservation Office, and installed in the existing housing. The displays are brighter and easier to read, ADA-compliant, are the first to display real-time updates, [77] and are necessary because the old equipment's software was no longer available. [78] Commuter complaints about the new displays were published in the news, as had complaints over the three prior board replacements, in 1967, 1985, and 1996. [73] [70] [79]

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Old Danbury Branch Solari.jpg
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Left to right:
• 1913–1967 train gate display
• 1967–1985 Solari gate display (out of cabinetry)
• 1996–present LCD displays
• 2019–present fully digital displays

There are also arrival and departure displays at each of the platform gates, about 93 in total. [76] Originally these were cloth curtains with train information stitched onto them, posted at the platform entrances. [72] The signs were eventually replaced with flip panels, replaced again with the installation of the Omega Board in 1987, [72] and supplanted again by LCD panels, which are being replaced between 2017 and 2020. [80] [74]


The size of the Main Concourse has made it an ideal advertising space. [81] During World War II, a large mural with images of the United States military hung in the concourse, [81] and from the 1950s to 1989, the Kodak Colorama exhibit was a prominent fixture. [82] [83] [84] A thirteen-and-a-half-foot-diameter (4.1 m) illuminated clock hung in the Main Concourse at the entrance to the main waiting room from the 1960s to the 1990s. The clock, sometimes referred to as "Big Ben", had chimes, and after 1986, news and stock information. The clock was sponsored by at least five companies; its first and most significant was Westclox. [85] [86] All of these advertisements and fixtures were removed around the time of the terminal's renovation in the 1990s; only four advertisement screens remain on the concourse, each about 7 x 6 feet. [87]

The Main Concourse has also been used as a gathering venue. In the 1960s, the terminal's tenant CBS installed a CBS News television screen above the ticket offices to follow the spaceflights of Project Mercury; [40] thousands would gather in the Main Concourse to watch key events of the flights. [88] [89] [90] Politicians such as U.S. presidents Calvin Coolidge and Harry S. Truman; presidential candidates Thomas Dewey and Robert F. Kennedy; and governor Herbert Lehman have also held events within the concourse. [91] The Main Concourse has also been used for memorials, including events to commemorate U.S. ambassador to France Myron T. Herrick and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis after their deaths; celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr. Day; and an impromptu memorial created after the September 11 attacks in 2001. [92] Several celebrations have also taken place at the terminal, such as a celebration for the New York Giants after they won the NFL championship in 1933; [93] an event for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941; [93] [94] and several large parties and New Year's celebrations. [93] [95]

Various special exhibits and events have also been held at the Main Concourse throughout the years. [96]

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Floor plan of the main level of the terminal


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Graybar Passage

In their design for the station's interior, Reed & Stem created a circulation system that allowed passengers alighting from trains to enter the Main Concourse, then leave through various passages that branch from it. [44] Among these are the north-south 42nd Street Passage and Shuttle Passage, which run south to 42nd Street; and three east-west passageways — the Grand Central Market, the Graybar Passage, and the Lexington Passage — that run about 240 feet east to Lexington Avenue by 43rd Street. [56] [97] Several passages run north of the terminal, including the north-south 45th Street Passage, which leads to 45th Street and Madison Avenue, [98] and the network of tunnels in Grand Central North, which lead to exits at every street from 45th to 48th Street. [56]

Each of the east-west passageways runs through a different building. The northernmost is the Graybar Passage, [56] built on the first floor of the Graybar Building in 1926. [99] Its walls and seven large transverse arches are of coursed ashlar travertine, and the floor is terrazzo. The ceiling is composed of seven groin vaults, each of which has an ornamental bronze chandelier. The first two vaults, as viewed from leaving Grand Central, are painted with cumulus clouds, while the third contains a 1927 mural by Edward Trumbull depicting American transportation. [100] [101]

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Grand Central Market's interior and its Lexington Avenue facade between the Graybar Building and Grand Hyatt New York

The middle passageway houses Grand Central Market, a cluster of food shops. [56] [102] The site was originally a segment of 43rd Street which became the terminal's first service dock in 1913. [103] In the mid-1970s, a savings bank was built in the space, [104] which was converted into the marketplace in 1998, and involved installing a new limestone facade on the building. [105] The building's second story, whose balcony overlooks the market and 43rd Street, was to house a restaurant, but is instead used for storage. [97] [106]

The southernmost of the three, the Lexington Passage, was originally known as the Commodore Passage after the hotel it ran through. [97] When the hotel was renamed the Grand Hyatt, the passage was likewise renamed. The passage acquired its current name during the terminal's renovation in the 1990s. [105]

Grand Central North

Grand Central North is a network of four tunnels that allow people to walk between the station building (which sits between 42nd and 44th Street) and exits at 45th, 46th, 47th, and 48th Street. [107] The 1,000-foot (300 m) Northwest Passage and 1,200-foot (370 m) Northeast Passage run parallel to the tracks on the upper level, while two shorter cross-passages run perpendicular to the tracks. [108] [109] The 47th Street cross-passage runs between the upper and lower tracks, 30 feet (9.1 m) below street level; it provides access to upper-level tracks. The 45th Street cross-passage runs under the lower tracks, 50 feet (15 m) below street level. Converted from a corridor built to transport luggage and mail, [109] it provides access to lower-level tracks.

The tunnels' street-level entrances, each enclosed by a freestanding glass structure, [109] sit at the northeast corner of East 47th Street and Madison Avenue (Northwest Passage), northeast corner of East 48th Street and Park Avenue (Northeast Passage), on the east and west sides of 230 Park Avenue (Helmsley Building) between 45th and 46th Streets, and (since 2012) on the south side of 47th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. [110] Pedestrians can also take an elevator to the 47th Street passage from the north side of East 47th Street, between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenues. [111]

Proposals for these tunnels had been discussed since at least the 1970s. The MTA approved preliminary plans in 1983, [112] gave final approval in 1991, [113] and began construction in 1994. [108] Dubbed the North End Access Project, the work was to be completed in 1997 at a cost of $64.5 million, [113] but it was slowed by the incomplete nature of the building's original blueprints and by previously undiscovered groundwater beneath East 45th Street. [108] The passageways opened on August 18, 1999, at a final cost of $75 million. [108]

The passages contain an MTA Arts & Design mosaic installation by Ellen Driscoll, an artist from Brooklyn. [108]

The entrances to Grand Central North were originally open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. About 6,000 people used the passages on a typical weekend, [114] and about 30,000 on weekdays. Since summer 2006, Grand Central North has been closed on weekends; MTA officials cited low usage and the need to save money. [115]

Other spaces on the main floor

Vanderbilt Hall

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Vanderbilt Hall, c. 1910
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The Tournament of Champions squash championship in 2012
GCT Agern.jpg

Vanderbilt Hall is an event space on the south side of the terminal, between the Park Avenue entrance and the Main Concourse to its north. Its west side houses a food hall. [56] The space is lit by Beaux-Arts chandeliers with 132 bulbs on four tiers. [50]

It was formerly the main waiting room for the terminal, used particularly by intercity travelers. The space featured double-sided oak benches and could seat 700 people. [116] When intercity service ceased at Grand Central in 1991, the room began to be used by several hundred homeless people. Terminal management responded first by removing the room's benches, then by closing the space entirely. [N 3] In 1998, the hall was renovated and renamed Vanderbilt Hall after the family that built and owned the station. [97] It is used for the annual Christmas Market, [118] as well as for special exhibitions and private events. [119]

Since 1999, Vanderbilt Hall has hosted the annual Tournament of Champions squash championship. [120] Each January, tournament officials construct a free-standing glass-enclosed 21 x 32-foot squash court. Like a theatre in the round, spectators sit on three sides of the court. [121]

In 2016, the west half of the hall became the Great Northern Food Hall, an upscale Nordic-themed food court with five pavilions. The food hall is the first long-term tenant of the space; the terminal's landmark status prevents permanent installations. [122]

A men's smoking room and women's waiting room were formerly located on the west and east sides of Vanderbilt Hall, respectively. [122] In 2016, the men's room was renovated into Agern, an 85-seat Nordic-themed 85-seat fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurant operated by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer, [123] who also runs the food hall. [122]

Biltmore Room

Former newsstand in the Biltmore Room Biltmore Room 2017 04.jpg
Former newsstand in the Biltmore Room

The Biltmore Room is a 64-by-80-foot (20 by 24 m) marble hall [124] northwest of the Main Concourse that serves as an entrance to tracks 39 through 42. [56] Completed in 1915 [125] directly beneath the New York Biltmore Hotel, [124] it originally served as a waiting room for intercity trains known formally as the incoming train room and colloquially as the "Kissing Room".

As the station's passenger traffic declined in mid-century, the room fell into neglect. In 1982 and 1983, the room was damaged during the construction that converted the Biltmore Hotel into the Bank of America Plaza. In 1985, Giorgio Cavaglieri was hired to restore the room, which at the time had cracked marble, makeshift lighting, and series of lockers. [126] Later, the room held a newsstand, flower stand, and shoe shine booths. [125] [127] In 2015, the MTA awarded a contract to refurbish the Biltmore Room into an arrival area for Long Island Rail Road passengers as part of the East Side Access project. [128] As part of the project, the room's booths and stands are to be replaced by a pair of escalators and an elevator to the deep-level LIRR concourse. [125] [127]

The room's blackboard displayed the arrival and departure times of New York Central trains until 1967, [70] when a mechanical board was installed in the Main Concourse. [124]

Station Master's Office

The Station Master's Office, located near Track 36, has Grand Central's only dedicated waiting room. The space has benches, restrooms, and a floral mixed-media mural on three of its walls. The room's benches were previously located in the former waiting room, now known as Vanderbilt Hall. Since 2008, the area has offered free Wi-Fi. [129]

Former theatre

One of the retail areas of the Graybar Passage, currently occupied by wine and liquor store Central Cellars, was the Grand Central Theatre or Terminal Newsreel Theatre. [130] [131] Opened in 1937, the theater showed short films, cartoons, and newsreels [132] continuously from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. for 25-cent tickets. [133] [134] Designed by Tony Sarg, it had 242 stadium-style seats and a standing-room section with armchairs. A small bar sat near the entrance. [135] The theater's interior had simple pine walls spaced out to eliminate echos, along with an inglenook, a fireplace, and an illuminated clock for the convenience of travelers. The walls of the lobby, dubbed the "appointment lounge", were covered with world maps; the ceiling had an astronomical mural painted by Sarg. [130] The New York Times reported a cost of $125,000 for the theater's construction, which was attributed to construction of an elevator between the theater and the suburban concourse as well as air conditioning and apparatuses for people hard of hearing. [134]

The theater stopped showing newsreels by 1968 [136] but continued operating until around 1979, when it was gutted for retail space, [133] A renovation in the early 2000s removed a false ceiling, revealing the theater's projection window and its astronomical mural, which proved similar in colors and style to the Main Concourse ceiling. [132]

Dining Concourse

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Dining Concourse food stalls and track entrances
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One of several public seating areas

Access to the lower-level tracks is provided by the Dining Concourse, below the Main Concourse and connected to it by numerous stairs, ramps, and escalators. For decades, it was called the Suburban Concourse because it handled commuter rail trains. [33] Today, it has central seating and lounge areas, surrounded by restaurants and food vendors. [56] The shared public seating in the concourse was designed resembling Pullman traincars. [97] These areas are frequented by the homeless, and as a result, in the mid-2010s the MTA created two areas with private seating for dining customers. [137]

The concourses are connected by two ramps, which comprise a 302-foot (92 m) west-east axis under an 84-foot (26 m) ceiling. [138] They intersect a slight slope from the Dining Concourse just outside the Oyster Bar, [56] under an archway covered with Guastavino tiling. [139] The arch creates a whispering gallery: someone standing in one corner can hear someone speaking softly in the opposite corner. [40] [54] An overpass between the main concourse and the Vanderbilt Hall passes over the archway; from 1927 until 1998, the sides of the bridge were enclosed by walls about 8 feet (2.4 m) high. [138]

As part of the terminal's late-1990s renovation, stands and restaurants were installed in the concourse, and escalators added to link to the main concourse level. [97] Additionally, the MTA spent $2.2 million to construct two 45-foot-wide circular designs in the concourse's floor. The designs were by David Rockwell and Beyer Blinder Belle, made of terrazzo, and installed over the concourse's original terrazzo floor. [140] Since 2015, part of the Dining Concourse has been closed for the construction of structural framework to support stairways and escalators to the new LIRR terminal being built as part of East Side Access. [141]

A small square-framed clock is installed in the ceiling near Tracks 108 and 109. It was manufactured at an unknown time by the Self Winding Clock Company, which made several others in the terminal. The clock hung inside the gate at Track 19 until 2011, when it was moved so it would not be blocked by lights added during upper-level platform improvements. [63]

Lost-and-found bureau

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MTA Police and lost-and-found offices

Metro-North's lost-and-found bureau sits near Track 100 at the far east end of the Dining Concourse. Incoming items are sorted according to function and date: for instance, there are separate bins for hats, gloves, belts, and ties. [142] [143] The sorting system was computerized in the 1990s. [144] Lost items are kept for up to 90 days before being donated or auctioned off. [54] [145]

As early as 1920, the bureau received between 15,000 and 18,000 items a year. [146] By 2002, the bureau was collecting "3,000 coats and jackets; 2,500 cellphones; 2,000 sets of keys; 1,500 wallets, purses and ID's [ sic ]; and 1,100 umbrellas" a year. [144] By 2007, it was collecting 20,000 items a year, 60% of which were eventually claimed. [145] In 2013, the bureau reported an 80% return rate, among the highest in the world for a transit agency. [54] [60]

Some of the more unusual items collected by the bureau include fake teeth, prosthetic body parts, legal documents, diamond pouches, live animals, and a $100,000 violin. [143] [145] One story has it that a woman purposely left her unfaithful husband's ashes on a Metro-North train before collecting it three weeks later. [54] [145] In 1996, some of the lost-and-found items were displayed at an art exhibition. [147]

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Floor plan of the Dining Level

Other food service and retail spaces

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Entrance to the Oyster Bar
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The Campbell Bar

Grand Central Terminal contains restaurants such as the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant and various fast food outlets surrounding the Dining Concourse. There are also delis, bakeries, a gourmet and fresh food market, and an annex of the New York Transit Museum. [148] [149] The 40-plus retail stores include newsstands and chain stores, including a Starbucks coffee shop, a Rite Aid pharmacy, and an Apple Store. [56] [150]

The Oyster Bar, the oldest business in the terminal, sits next to the Dining Concourse and below Vanderbilt Hall. [56] [122]

An elegantly restored cocktail lounge, the Campbell, sits just south of the 43rd Street/Vanderbilt Avenue entrance. A mix of commuters and tourists access it from the street or the balcony level. [56] The space was once the office of 1920s tycoon John W. Campbell, who decorated it to resemble the galleried hall of a 13th-century Florentine palace. [151] [152] In 1999, it opened as a bar, the Campbell Apartment; a new owner renovated and renamed it the Campbell in 2017. [153]

Vanderbilt Tennis Club and former studios

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The Vanderbilt Tennis Club's court

From 1939 to 1964, CBS Television occupied a large portion of the terminal building, particularly above Vanderbilt Hall. [154] [155] The space contained two "program control" facilities (43 and 44); network master control; facilities for local station WCBS-TV; [154] [155] [156] and, after World War II, two 700,000-square-foot (65,000 m2) production studios (41 and 42). [157] Broadcasts were transmitted from an antenna atop the nearby Chrysler Building installed by order of CBS chief executive William S. Paley, [157] [156] and were also shown on a large screen in the Main Concourse. [157] In 1958, CBS opened the world's first major videotape operations facility in Grand Central. Located in a former rehearsal room on the seventh floor, the facility used 14 Ampex VR-1000 videotape recorders. [154] [155]

Douglas Edwards with the News broadcast from Grand Central for several years, covering John Glenn's 1962 Mercury-Atlas 6 space flight and other events. Edward R. Murrow's See It Now originated there, including his famous broadcasts on Senator Joseph McCarthy, which were recreated in George Clooney's movie Good Night, and Good Luck , although the film incorrectly implies that CBS News and corporate offices were in the same building. The long-running panel show What's My Line? was first broadcast from Grand Central, as were The Goldbergs and Mama . CBS eventually moved its operations to the CBS Broadcast Center. [154] [155] [157]

In 1966, the vacated studio space was converted to Vanderbilt Tennis Club, a sports club named for the hall just below. [154] [155] [158] [159] Founded by Geza A. Gazdag, an athlete and Olympic coach who fled Hungary amid its 1956 revolution, [160] its two tennis courts were once deemed the most expensive place to play the game—$58 an hour—until financial recessions forced the club to lower the hourly fee to $40. [161] In 1984, the club was purchased by real estate magnate Donald Trump, who discovered it while renovating the terminal's exterior [162] and operated it until 2009. [154] The space is currently occupied by a conductor lounge and a smaller sports facility with a single tennis court. [155] [159]

Basement spaces

Power and heating plant

Grand Central Terminal and its predecessors contained their own power plants. The first such plant, built for Grand Central Depot in the 1870s, stood in the surface-level railroad yards at Madison Avenue and 46th Street. The second was built in 1900 under the west side of Grand Central Station near 43rd Street. [163]

When the terminal was created, a new power and heating plant was built on the east side of Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. [164] [165] The two-smokestack structure could supply a daily average of 5,000,000 pounds (2,300,000 kg) of heating steam. [163] [166] The plant also provided power to the tracks and the station, supplementing other New York Central power plants in Yonkers (later renamed the Glenwood Power Station) and Port Morris in the Bronx (since demolished). [163] While the Port Morris and Yonkers plants provided 11,000-volt alternating current for arriving and departing locomotives, the Grand Central plant converted the alternating current to 800 volts of direct current for use by the terminal's own third-rail-powered locomotives. [163] [167] In addition, the Grand Central power plant provided power to nearby buildings. [165] [163]

By the late 1920s, most power and heating services were contracted out to Consolidated Edison, [168] and so the power plant was torn down in 1929. [169] (Its only remaining vestige is the storage yard under the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel built in 1931. [165] ) A new substation —the world's largest at the time — was built 100 feet (30 m) under the Graybar Building at a cost of $3 million. [163] [170] Occupying a four-story space with a footprint of 250 by 50 feet (76 by 15 m), [163] [168] it is divided into substation 1T, which provides 16,500 kilowatts (22,100 hp) for third-rail power, and substation 1L, which provides 8,000 kilowatts (11,000 hp) for other lighting and power. [163]

A sub-basement, dubbed M42, contains the AC-to-DC converters that supply DC traction current to the tracks. [54] Though sources vary on its exact depth, it is thought to be located 105 to 109 feet (32 to 33 m) below ground, [171] or either 10 or 13 stories deep. [172] The M42 basement was installed in the former boiler void excavated in the bedrock beneath the present-day Grand Central Market and the entrance to the Graybar Building, three levels below the lower Metro-North level. [173] Two of the original rotary converters remain as a historical record. During World War II, this facility was closely guarded because its sabotage would have impaired troop movement on the Eastern Seaboard. [36] [174] [175] It is said that any unauthorized person entering the facility during the war risked being shot on sight; the rotary converters could have easily been crippled by a bucket of sand. [176] The Abwehr, a German espionage service, sent two spies to sabotage it; they were arrested by the FBI before they could strike. [36] M42 also included a system to monitor trains in and around the terminal, which was used from 1913 until 1922, when it was supplemented by telegraphs. [54]

Carey's Hole

Another part of the basement is known as Carey's Hole. The two-story section is directly beneath the Shuttle Passage and adjacent spaces. In 1913, when the terminal opened, J. P. Carey opened a barbershop adjacent to and one level below the terminal's waiting room (now Vanderbilt Hall). Carey's business expanded to include a laundry service, shoe store, and haberdashery. In 1921, Carey also ran a limousine service using Packard cars, and in the 1930s, he added regular car and bus service to the city's airports as they opened. Carey would store his merchandise in an unfinished, underground area of the terminal, which railroad employees and maintenance staff began calling "Carey's Hole". The name has remained even as the space has been used for different purposes, including currently as a lounge and dormitory for railroad employees. [177]

Platforms and tracks

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c. 1909 layout of the upper-level mainline tracks (top) and lower-level suburban tracks (bottom), showing balloon loops

The terminal holds the Guinness World Record for having the most platforms of any railroad station: [178] 28, which support 44 platform numbers. All are island platforms except one side platform. [179] Odd-numbered tracks are usually on the east side of the platform; even-numbered tracks on the west side. As of 2016, there are 67 tracks, of which 43 are in regular passenger use, serving Metro-North. [180] [181] At its opening, the train shed contained 123 tracks, including duplicate track numbers and storage tracks, [181] with a combined length of 19.5 miles (31.4 km). [182]

The tracks slope down as they exit the station to the north, to help departing trains accelerate and arriving ones slow down. [183] Because of the size of the rail yards, Park Avenue and its side streets from 43rd Street to 59th Street are raised on viaducts, and the surrounding blocks were covered over by various buildings. [184]

At its busiest, the terminal is served by an arriving train every 58 seconds. [60]

Track distribution