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Grand Central Terminal
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrGrand Central Terminal is a railroad station and a center of transportation in New York City. Located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, the station is one of two magnificent train stations that were constructed in the city during the boom of railroad transportation. The other one was Penn Station, an even grander building that was demolished in the 1960s after being vandalized and later replaced by present-day, unassuming Penn Station.
Grand Central Terminal is the largest railway station in the world in terms of platforms. There are no less than 44 of them, serving a total of 67 tracks. These tracks are located on two levels; 41 tracks lie on the upper level, 26 on the lower level.
This amazing landmark is better known as Grand Central Station, although it is in fact where the New York City subway trains depart and terminate. The station is grand indeed, featuring massive tiled halls, monumental open spaces and also the finest details. It attracts more than 20 million visitors every year.
HistoryThe current Grand Central Terminal isn’t the first building to serve the same purpose on the site. Two previous buildings essentially had the same function.
In 1863, Cornelius Vanderbilt consolidated the Harlem Railroad and New York Central Railroad. This resulted in the need for a larger railway station in the city. The new station was opened in 1871 and was the largest railway station in the world at the time. It was appropriately named Grand Central Station. At the end of the 19th century, a large part of the station was demolished and replaced by a much larger building. A completely new façade was built and the number of stories doubled. Traffic increased rapidly, and in 1902 seventeen people were killed in the Park Avenue tunnel where the view was restricted by smoke from the trains’ steam engines. This accident caused public protests, which resulted in a new law stating that steam engines wouldn’t be allowed in Manhattan anymore starting in 1910.
Soon after the accident, plans for a brand new and modern railroad station were being developed. Between 1903 and 1913, the whole structure was taken down and rebuilt. This reconstruction took place and resulted in the present-day Grand Central Terminal. In addition to building a completely new building, the station was also electrified. All three railroads that used Grand Central Terminal became electrified. This resulted in a whole new city block of expensive real estate in the heart of New York City. The building is built mainly out of granite, so much so that it regularly emits radiation. The new railroad terminal opened on February 2, 1913.
The new building project didn't only include the railroad station, but also a whole complex of office buildings and apartments. The complex became known as Terminal City and was similar in concept to the Rockefeller Center, which was constructed a few decades later. Terminal City also encouraged new building projects in the neighborhood. The most famous building that resulted from that is the Chrysler Building. Grand Central Terminal focused mostly on traffic circulation; pedestrians and cars are separated by elevated ramps. The whole project cost 80 million USD. In the construction process, as many as 180 buildings – even hospitals and churches – were demolished.
ArchitectureGrand Central Terminal’s stunning façade on 42nd Street is designed in Beaux-Arts style. It has large arches and Corinthian columns, which are topped by a group of huge sculptures, up to 15 meter high, depicting Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules, representing mental strength, commerce, and moral strength respectively.
The building’s main concourse is the most impressive feature. This immense hall is 143 meter long, 49 meter wide, and 46 meter high. The magnificent ceiling was painted by the French artist, Paul Helleu. The design came from a medieval manuscript and consists of zodiac constellations. Daylight enters the building through six 75-feet-high windows.
Inside you can see a superb double staircase made of Botticino marble and designed after the Opera Garnier in Paris. The concourse’s floor is made of Tennessee marble and the walls of Caen stone.
Visiting Grand Central TerminalTerminal City is a hub not only for transportation, but also for shopping and dining. There are 68 shops and 35 places to eat. The complex can be reached by train, subway, bus, and airport shuttle. Grand Central Terminal is free to visit and should be on anyone’s list when visiting New York City. Most visitors pass through the station anyway when traveling between other landmarks.
Nearby LandmarksLocated in central Manhattan, the station lies close to many other New York City landmarks, all reachable by subway, bus, taxi and on foot. Examples are the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and many more.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 12, 2014