Listed amongst the top 10 tourists attractions in NYC, Grand Central Station at 89 East 42nd St @ Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan is also very accessible. Built to handle very large numbers of travellers, it is a huge space covering 49 acres and easily accommodates the 21.6 million people a year who come through its doors.
The present building, there were 2 previous incarnations, opened in 1913, and it is a stunning example of the Beaux Art Architectural style. Both the external and interior areas have extravgent and luscious detailing. There’s not just the Tiffany clock at the entrance surrounded by an elaborate sculpture depicting ‘Transportation’ but there’s the main concourse with it’s magnificently large windws. There’s the four faced clock over the main information booth, the high domed ceiling painted with astronomical details, the extravagent use of marble throughout and the detailing around all the windows and arches. It is not just a train station, it is a transportation palace.
It has, tucked away within its grandness, a tennis court, an oyster bar, numerous food outlets, chain stores offering a wide range of goods, a whispering gallery, a Transit Museum, a cocktail lounge, a secret lower area so important to the war effort during W.W.11 that it was guarded by armed guards and Vanderbilt Hall used for formal occasions. And that isn’t all.
That it still stands at all is a tribute to the steely resolve of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and artistic gliterrati of NYC headed up by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The owners wanted to pull it down as they had already pulled down Penn Station. The Preservation Commission, backed up by Jacqui O and her cohorts, took them to court and in 1978 the Supreme Court decided in the Commission’s favor.
The company that owned it went under and now it is owned by Midtown TDR Ventures and it is leased by the MTA until 2274. The MTA has carried out a very thorough renovation and discretely and sensitively redesigned some areas to bring them into line with current needs. In entering the main concourse now you see the building as it was originally intended and it is a deeply satisfying experience. This is a building you can walk straight into and allow yourself several hours to simply wander around and explore everything it has to offer.