Grand Central Station (it's actual name is Grand Central Terminal), serves as a major commuter transportation hub for New York City. Located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue, it represents the center of activity for the citizens and visitors to New York City.
Its 48 acres were constructed by railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and the New York Central Railroad in the heyday of American long-distance passenger rail travel. Prior to its construction, no one had ever seen anything like it, nor have they since. The top level surrounds you with the beauty and elegance of a bygone era, and serves as a visual masterpiece. while the heart of the transportation occurs on the 44 platforms (all below ground) that serve 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 tracks on the lower level. The total number of tracks along platforms and in rail yards exceeds 100.
The terminal first opened on the evening of February 1, 1913, as public dignitaries and officials from the New York Central Railroad joined thousands of New Yorkers for the grand opening. At 12:01 am, the first passengers boarded trains departing from the new Grand Central Station, and within the first day, 150,000 commuters had passed through its doors. Now more than 100 years old, the world’s largest train station continues to impress, with more than 750,000 visitors every day. The current terminal is the third terminal built over 100 years ago.
For much of its history, as today, Grand Central Station has served as an important cultural hub for the city of New York. In its early years, people flocked to the building to take in a movie at its theater, dine at its restaurants and cafes, or learn about the history of railroads at an on-site museum. There was even an art school at one time.
All of these opportunities are still options for today. Grand Central Station, while serving the daily transportation needs of New Yorkers, is also a destination to itself. No visit to New York would be complete without a visit to this fabulous building to enjoy its visual and gastronomic offerings. The building offers more than 68 shops, 35 dining options, a full selection of markets; featuring food & specialty items, and incredibly, it offers a full schedule of events throughout the year to enjoy, especially around the holiday seasons.
It is impossible to get to know how truly Grand Central Station is without taking a grand tour. Among the many things you will discover is: while the station has provided a backdrop to countless books, movies and television shows, few people realize that during the early days of television, dozens of programs were filmed and broadcast out of studios located above the famed Oyster Bar.
During his time in office, President Franklin Roosevelt utilized a secret rail line, Track 61, which provided an underground connection between Grand Central and the nearby Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The line is closed, so it's location will remain as one of the buildings true secrets.
The former first lady, Jackie Kennedy, is rightfully remembered for her efforts to prevent the planned demolition of Grand Central in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1980s that a restoration project began to remove the gunk, long thought to have been caused by the arrival and departure of thousands of trains. Preservationists left a small patch of the ceiling untreated as a reminder of its former condition.
The building has a few oddities that are interesting to consider from one of the tour guides, such as the onetime hole in the ceiling, the second, but non matching staircase, and a few surprises related to the ceiling finish.
There are a number of hotels in the area that offers mid to upper price points. As in virtually all areas of New York, both taxis and restaurants are plentiful. There is no shortage of choices for nighttime entertainment, attractions and sightseeing opportunities.
Once upon a time, trains arriving at Grand Central continued into southern Manhattan and the building itself was just a stop along the route. However, when the third and final Grand Central was built, it became the final stop—all railroad lines terminated at 42nd Street—making it a "terminal" not a "station," and giving the building its new name. Just to keep things confusing, there actually is a Grand Central Station located just next door — it's the branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
Enjoy your stay!