Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Tour of Grand Central Station

These two pictures are from my hotel window in the evening after all the lights were on. I couldn't resist adding them to the blog. After all I have shown the view at every other time!!

Thursday Warren and I decided to split up as he wanted to take the tour of Central Park and my feet by this time were killing me! I opted instead for what I thought would be a short tour of Grand Central Station. Well, it was a great tour but not short. It is a free tour that is held by the historical society each Wed at 12:30. It was lovely in that we heard so much of the history of Manhattan as well as the history of railroading in NYC and of course Vanderbuilt.

Now when I was a kid, we lived in the Philadelphia suburbs, used public transportation and had no car. We frequently would take the train to NY into Penn Station and then switch to Grand Central for the "national" part of our trip. All that has changed as Penn Station is where the long rides originate out of now and all the local trains come from Grand Central.

Over a 15 year period, they complete refurbished and redid Grand Central to bring it back to what it was when it was first built in 1913. It is the largest in the world in terms of the number of tracks coming in and out (I believe it was 67 or 68). When they rebuilt, they actually opened up quarries long closed in Italy and Tennessee to obtain matching marble!

I remember the "before" version only as being a grubby railway station like many I had been in. The most striking thing was always the HUGE Kodak picture of the month or quarter which filled one end of the station. No, it is no longer there. They actually built a new part of the station according to the original plans which had never existed before -- on the east side. The reason it was never finished as only the poor lived on the east side of Manhattan and they would have no need for a railroad!!

It certainly has changed!!

This is the clock on the outside of Grand Central. You will see the red background on the 6 and this is actually a window that opens in the summer to keep the works cooled.

This is one of the many lights in the main section of the terminal. When they were contemplating the cleaning and refurbishing, they assumed that these were brass as they were so discolored by smoke and grime. It turned out that they were actually gilded with gold on nickel!! They are stunning.

This is a view looking up at the ceiling of Grand Central which is filled with a painting of the Mediterranean night sky from June through October. They didn't even know it was there, the ceiling was so dirty. Needless to say, they don't allow smoking in there anymore as that was 70% of the grime.

This is one of the light fixtures in what used to be the Ladies Waiting Room where women would shower and change before or after getting on the train. They are starting to do some more work in here.

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