Built for the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad between 1903 and 1913, Grand Central Station (a.k.a. “Grand Central Terminal” or simply “Grand Central”) is the world’s largest train station and a popular New York City attraction. With three quarters of a million people passing through this majestic terminal daily, it’s New York City’s most visited building. It is also one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, with nearly 22 million visitors having toured this world-famous landmark in 2013.
To say Grand Central Station is a big building is quite the understatement. With 120-foot-high ceilings in the cavernous main concourse, 44 underground platforms (more than any other rail station in the world), and covering 48 acres in Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central is simply enormous. More than two hundred buildings had to be demolished in order to make way for the station before it could be built.
For decades after its construction, Grand Central was an exciting engineering marvel and showcase of NYC architectural grandeur. But due to a decline in rail travel and a financial crisis in New York, it fell on hard times in the 1960’s and 70’s. Fortunately, a massive and meticulous restoration project in the 1990’s help return this historic train terminal to its former days of glory for all of us to enjoy today.
Even if you have no plans to catch a train, a visit to Grand Central should be at the top of your “things to do in New York City” list. Home to stylish shops, nearly 50 restaurants and food vendors, and the New York City Transit Museum, there’s much to see and do here. Some of the highlights to admire while you stroll through Grand Central include the:
- Painted skyscape with twinkling constellations adorning the vaulted ceiling.
- Huge arched windows allowing natural light to flood the main concourse.
- Famous opal-faced clock located above the information booth. Valued at $20 million, it’s the largest Tiffany glass clock in the world.
- Towering statues, grand staircases, and elegant chandeliers.
Trip Tips: Grand Central Station
Grand Central is more than just a train station. Built at the turn of the last century when railroad terminals were our grand gateways to visitors, it was the first view a traveler would have upon arriving in the booming new metropolis. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before your arrival at Grand Central:
- There are two ways to take a walking tour of Grand Central. You can take a self-guided audio tour; or, go on a tour with a guide. There are daily 75-minute public tours with docents who love to share their inside knowledge of the terminal’s design, history and operations.
- Be sure to stop in the unmarked archway in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Here you’ll discover the “whispering gallery,” a mystifying acoustical phenomenon. Whisper to someone else at the other diagonal arch, and they’ll be able to hear your voice “telegraphed” from across the hall.
- It’s conveniently located close to other popular NYC attractions such as the UN and Chrysler Building, making it easy to quickly visit all three.