The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal, New York City

The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal, New York City

An estimated 750,000 people pass through New York's Grand Central Terminal daily, on the way from one destination to another. 

But Grand Central is a destination all unto itself, and a destination that hides many secrets.

 

Here are a few of my favourites:

1. The Kissing Room

Officially named The Biltmore Room and located near tracks 39-42, this was the place weary travellers would arrive from the West Coast in the 1930s and 1940s, rushing eagerly into the arms of their loved ones. The ensuing kisses earned the room its romantic nickname.

 

2. The Whispering Gallery

There is one area in GCT where some low ceramic arches create a rather unusual acoustic effect. If you face the corner and whisper something, a person standing in the corner across the room will be able to hear every word you say. Now that would make for an interesting marriage proposal! I'll give you a little clue as to its location - it's on the dining concourse level. Look for people facing the corner talking to themselves - a sure sign you've found the right spot.

 

3. Backwards Zodiac

The ceiling over the Main Concourse has to be one of GCT's more famous sights, but few realise that the signs of the zodiac are actually reversed. Apparently the painter, Paul Helleu, took his inspiration from an ancient manuscript that depicted the zodiac as seen from the heavens - so the exact opposite of how they are seen from down here on earth.

 

4. Cold War Hole

If you look closely at the ceiling, just above the Pisces fish, you may notice a little hole in the ceiling. This was caused by a Redstone ballistic missile that was put on display in the Grand Central Concourse in 1957. It was an attempt by the US Army to counteract public fears over the Soviet launch of Sputnik and a hole was punched in the ceiling to lift the missile into place. British Pathé News covered the event in glorious black & white - see here.  

 

5. The Secret Platform

Yes, before there was Harry Potter and Platform 9 and 3/4, Grand Central had its very own secret platform, which is still fully operational to this day. Served by a dedicated train track, this platform was used by President Roosevelt to avoid crowds, and some say, to hide the fact that he was wheelchair-bound due to his polio. This is a place you won't be able to view for yourself, however. Its location is a closely guarded secret, and it is kept in working order 'just in case' there's ever a need to evacuate a VIP.

 

There are many more secrets waiting to be discovered in Grand Central Terminal, but these ones should keep you busy for a while.

Have fun finding these secrets - and discovering the others. 

 

Travel tip shared by ailsapm
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