Grand Central Station a Link to the Past, Future
As the nation’s busiest railway station, with daily commuters topping 700,000, the Grand Central Station Terminal reigns over the colossal 76-acre railway station’s rush hour crowds. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt, to accommodate his railroad empire, it’s main concourse rises the equivalent of 12-stories high and a corresponding width and is two-thirds the length of a football field. Its pale-blue ceiling glimmers with fiber-optic constellations calmly twinkling above the swirl of humanity below.
Around the edges of the concourse, indulge your shopping habit in a variety of retail outlets, or stop in at the Grand Central Oyster Bar for step back in time. Of course, most its beauty is difficult to enjoy during peak times, so plan to take in the architectural splendor outside of rush hours. When entering the waiting area, observe the glittering chandeliers before exiting into the immense concourse. To better survey the polished marble and the famous backlit, four-sided clock, consider heading up either one of the expansive staircases to the balcony where you find three restaurants from which to choose.
Modeled in the fashion of the ancient Roman public bathhouses, the well-crafted and classical Beaux-Arts architecture is evident from the Romanesque triumphal arch on the ornate south face at East 42nd Street to the Corinthian columns and gracefully arching windows that tower 75 feet high. An 1869 bronze statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt stands imposing in the central window. Presiding over the swirl of humanity is a one-and-a-half ton bald eagle. It’s cast iron wingspan reaches 13 feet as it perches on a ball near the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street.
Saved as a landmark by a campaign initiated by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the 1913 station returned to its original magnificence during a comprehensive renovation spanning four years. Reconstruction completed in October 1998. It continues to function as the world’s largest station, integrating travel on more than sixty train track and subway connections.