Grand Central Terminal - History and Facts | History Hit

Grand Central Terminal

New York, United States

Lily Johnson

05 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal, often known as Grand Central Station or simply Grand Central, is a commuter station and shopping destination in Midtown Manhattan, New York. It is a living reminder of the city’s illustrious railroad history and remains one of the most iconic stations in the world.

Grand Central Terminal history

In the 19th century, New York was experiencing a boom in railroad travel. In 1871, railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt opened the Grand Central Depot, linking together a huge rail network that terminated in what many deemed to be the nation’s new cultural and commercial capital – New York.

The railroad industry continue to grow at vast rates however, and the depot had to be demolished twice before construction of the current building began in 1903. With the City Beautiful movement in full force, the new station’s grand design aimed to revitalise midtown Manhattan and amplify New York’s magnificence, in the largest construction project the city had ever seen.

Completed in 1913, Grand Central Terminal was indeed a feat of stunning architectural design when it was first unveiled, and was the largest terminal in the world with a total of 30 passenger platforms and 32 miles of track. A boast-worthy accomplishment at the time, it was also one of the world’s first all-electric buildings!

Grand Central Terminal today

Today, Grand Central still operates as the hub of New York City’s transportation system. Subways and trains will take you all over the city, however Grand Central has also become a tourist hotspot due to its breathtaking design features and historic place in popular culture.

Overhead, constellations are painted across the vast domed ceiling of the Main Concourse, while its iconic central clock atop the information booth harks to the infamous New Yorker phrase – ‘meet me at the clock!’

Below street level the Dining Concourse boasts 20 different eatery options, from Michelin Star fine dining to grab-and-go fast food chains, while a European-style food market, a number of high street shops, and even a tennis club may be found elsewhere!

The Whispering Gallery is also an intriguing feature of the station. Grab a friend and stand in opposite corners – when one of you whispers, your voice will be carried clearly to the other side of the gallery in an acoustical phenomenon enjoyed by visitors for over 100 years.

Getting to Grand Central Terminal

The main entrance to Grand Central is 89 E. 42nd Street at Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York. 

It is accessible via a number of subway lines such as the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S lines that come out inside the station. A number of bus services also operate in the area, with the closest stop the Grand Central Terminal directly outside.