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Grand Central Terminal

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Grand Central Terminal
87 E 42nd Street
New York 10017 (212) 532-4900


Open to the public daily from 5:30 AM until
2:00 AM.

4, 5, 6, 7, and S lines M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M42, M98, M101, M102, M104, Q32

New York Grand Central TerminalGrand Central Terminal (GCT) — often incorrectly called Grand Central Station, or shortened to simply Grand Central — is a terminal station at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States. Built by and named for the New York Central Railroad in the heyday of American long-distance passenger trains, it is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms: 44, with 67 tracks along them. They are on two levels, both below ground, with 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower, though the total number of tracks along platforms and in rail yards exceeds 100. When the Long Island Rail Road's new station opens in 2016 (see East Side Access), Grand Central will offer a total of 75 tracks and 48 platforms. The terminal covers an area of 48 acres (19 ha).
The terminal serves commuters traveling on the Metro-North Railroad to Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York State, and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut.
Although the terminal has been properly called "Grand Central Terminal" since 1913, many people continue to refer to it as "Grand Central Station." "Grand Central Station" is the name of the nearby post office, as well as the name of a previous rail station on the site, and it is also used to refer to a New York City subway station at the same location.Exterior New York Grand Central Terminal


The tracks are numbered according to their location in the terminal building rather than the trains' destinations, because all of the trains terminate at Grand Central. 31 upper level tracks are in revenue service, numbered 11 to 42 east to west. Tracks 22 and 31 were removed in the late 1990s to build concourses for Grand Central North, track 12 was removed to expand the platform between tracks 11 and 13, and track 14 is only used for loading a garbage train. The lower level has 26 tracks, numbered 100 to 126, east to west, though only tracks 102-112, and 114-116 are currently used for passenger service. This makes it easy for passengers to quickly locate where their train is departing from, and this eliminates much of the confusion in attempting to locate specific trains in an immense terminal. Often, local and off-peak trains depart from the lower level while express, super-express, and peak trains depart from the main concourse. Odd numbered tracks are usually on the east side (right side facing north) of the platform; even numbered tracks on the west.
grand centralThe public timetables for April 3, 2011 show 286 weekday departures: 74 Hudson, 101 Harlem and 111 New Haven Line.
Besides platforms, Grand Central has restaurants, such as the Oyster Bar and various fast food outlets surrounding the Dining Concourse on the level below the Main Concourse, as well as delis, bakeries, newsstands, a gourmet and fresh food market, an annex of the New York Transit Museum, and more than forty retail stores. Grand Central generally contains only private outlets and small franchises. There are no chain outlets in the complex, except for a Starbucks coffee shop and a Rite Aid pharmacy.
A "secret" sub-basement known as M42 lies under the Terminal, containing the AC to DC converters used to supply DC traction current to the Terminal. The exact location of M42 is a closely guarded secret and does not appear on maps, though it has been shown on television, most notably, the History Channel program Cities of tNew York Grand Central Terminal Oyster Barhe Underworld and also a National Geographic special. The original rotary converters were not removed in the late 20th century when solid state ones took over their job, and they remain as a historical record. During World War II, this was one of the most guarded facilities because its sabotage would have greatly impaired troop movement on the Eastern Seaboard. Despite it being a secret, Adolf Hitler was aware of this facility and sent two spies to sabotage it. The spies were arrested by the FBI before they could strike. It is said that any unauthorized person entering the facility during the war risked being shot on sight: the rotary converters used at the time could have easily been crippled by a bucket of sand.
From 1924 through 1944, the attic of the east wing contained a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) art school and gallery space called the Grand Central School of Art.


The Advent of the Railroad in New York City

Old Grand CentralImagine Park Avenue from 45th to 49th Street as a rail yard -- a corridor of smoke and cinders extending uptown from 49th Street.  Think of breweries and factories operating where the Waldorf-Astoria, Lever House and the Seagram Building now stand. Picture to the east a district of tenements, warehouses, and slaughterhouses.  In place of the United Nations and Tudor City, the squatters' shacks of Dutch Hill, inhabited by paupers, criminal gangs, and a herd of goats.  It is hard to conceive that this cityscape ever existed, let alone that it was the environment in which Grand Central Terminal took shape less than one hundred years ago.
While Grand Central Terminal stands today as one of New York City's most famous landmarks, it was by no means the first railroad station in New York City.  In fact, the current structure is neither the first to claim the name "Grand Central" or to occupy the present location at 42nd and Park.  Yet, the story of Grand Central Terminal allows one to gaze back and observe much of the history of the City of New York, and to witness the growth and expansion of a vibrant metropolis reflected in an unrivaled monument of civic architecture. 
The first rail line into New York City -- the New York and Harlem Railroad -- was formed in 1831 and began service to a terminus at Fourth Avenue and 23rd Street the following year.  Over the next five years, the railroad constructed a station, offices, and stables along Fourth Avenue, 26th and 27th Streets; through subsequent expansion and reconstruction, the New York and Harlem Railroad Station would come to occupy the entire block bounded by Fourth and Madison Avenues and 26th and 27th Streets.  (In 1871, P.T. Barnum purchased the New York and Harlem Railroad Station and converted it into Madison Square Garden -- the first of several structures to bear that historic name).Grand Central Terminal - New York
During the late 1840's, additional railroad service into New York -- notably The New York and New Haven Railroad and The Hudson River Railroad -- precipitated the advent of variety of terminals, depots, freight houses and passenger stations throughout the city.  Horse-drawn extensions merged with steam-powered lines in a haphazard network of railways that was plagued by complaints about noise, pollution, traffic, and chronic accidents. By 1858, steam locomotives had been progressively banned from crowded areas and were no longer in service below 42nd Street, giving rise to the need for a new terminal.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Terminal 1907Reborn as "Grand Central Station," the reconfigured depot’s most prominent feature was undoubtedly its enormous train shed.  Constructed of glass and steel, the 100-foot wide by 650-foot long structure rivaled the Eiffel Tower and Crystal Palace for primacy as the most dramatic engineering achievement of the 19th century.  The updated station also featured a "classical" façade, a unified 16,000 square foot waiting room, and distinctive ornamentation, including monumental cast-iron eagles with wingspans of 13-feet (In fact, one of these eagles was recently salvaged and will rise again above Grand Central Terminal’s new entrance at 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue and the other one can be found on the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue).
All the while, the age of the steam locomotive was drawing to a close.  Earlier efforts to increase safety and reduce congestion, including the Fourth Avenue Improvement Scheme which lowered tracks below grade from Grand Central Depot to 56th Street and created a tunnel from 56th Street to 96th Street, had proved insufficient.  Noise and air pollution were chronic, and public concern about safety was on the rise.  A catastrophic train collision on January 8, 1902 in the smoke-filled Park Avenue Tunnel killed seventeen and injured thirty-eight, causing a public outcry and increasing demand for electric trains.  One week later the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad announced plans to improve the Park Avenue Tunnel and expand Grand Central.  By the end of the year, plans were in development -- spearheaded by the New York Central’s chief engineer William J. Wilgus -- to demolish the existing station and create a new double level terminal for electric trains.

Grand Central Terminal in New York City Map 


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