6/26/10

Grand Central Terminal


Long before there were airport terminals, there were train stations. During the gilded age when riding on a train was the fastest and most fashionable means of transportation, train stations provided a respite from all the hassles of traveling - on cavernous waiting rooms passengers sat, slept and ate. It was a place to see and be seen, laden as most people were with boxy suitcases. Even as long distance traveling shifted more towards flying, the romance of train travel and the allure of a train station has not really diminished.

Grand Central Station on 42nd Street

A closer view

Right in the middle of Manhattan is one of America's busiest and most beautiful - the Grand Central Terminal. True to its name, everything about it is grand and it is definitely centrally-located. Completed in 1913 after 10 long years, the facade alone is already a stunner amidst all that towering buildings on 42nd Street. Inside the main concourse, the station's atmospheric ceilings do keep necks craned up for a while. Even for me who's been through this part of the building a lot of times, the fascination never ends. It's graceful architecture harks back to the days when people dress to impress while traveling, when the Rockefellers and the Vandervilts ruled Manhattan, when most of the American interior was pretty much unexplored.

While tickets can be bought online, many still do it the old way - from ticket windows

Time to catch a train

Something really nasty came up in the 1960's. As construction boom continued to change the city's skyline, real estate developers sought to demolish Grand Central Terminal to build another skyscraper - just as the grand old Penn Station was razed to the ground years earlier. I could only gasp in horror at what these greedy developers were thinking at the time. As expected, many preservationists rallied, led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and with the backing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the US Supreme Court, Grand Central Terminal was ultimately saved from the wrecking ball.

Some people just don't follow rules

What used to be the main waiting area for passengers,
the Vanderbilt Hall is now used for exhibits and holiday fairs

These days, Grand Central Terminal maintains its sheen while under the control of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It has now become a destination on its own what with its array of shops, high-end restaurants and a dining concourse in the lower level. And of course, there are the Metro-North trains and subways of the MTA, trains that serve upstate New York and the outer boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Anyone going to Washington, DC or Boston and beyond has to go to a soulless modern Penn Station down on 34th Street - not really as inviting as the old world charm of New York's grand dame.

18 comments:

  1. Great historical building and definitely is one of the landmarks in NY! Great shots. I like the last B/W photo a lot!

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  2. Ah, this building is so familiar to me. I can't count the number of times I've seen it in movies.

    Kahit saan talaga me pasaway. Kaharap na yung karatula, uupo pa rin.

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  3. as usual great takes of the place. i like the second shot of the moving car. this reminds me of the post office of ho chi minh. though it was small but the structure has some similarities.

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  4. really great shots!! i've been wanting to get there inside and your photos really encouraged me to do it sometime soon.

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  5. Grand Central! After the train rides, the thing I like next are the fresh oysters on the half shell and cold beer I run into before I leave the station.

    I was introduced to this decadent gastronomic delight the first time I visited New Orleans in the late seventies when I used to backpacked across the North American continent during summer breaks.

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  6. I like the third photo very much. so historical. and the last photo, whatta perfect shot!

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  7. GRAND indeed!
    reminds me of Frozen Grand Central in youtube. Ü

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  8. nice info pards.. saka ganda nung mga capture photo shot! grande talaga!

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  9. These corners made their way to many movies. The first and last photos are very powerful. Ang galing ng kuha mo. =)

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  10. I like the way you put historical perspective on this grand icon. I lived in NY for nearly 5 years and passed through Grand Central many many times but it was just a blur....always in a hurry to catch the 7 Train to Flushing. Thanks for bringing it back.

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  11. parang sa mga movies nga! ganda! clap clap clap! :)

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  12. looks familiarr....loads of hollywood movies are filmed here!

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  13. Thanks for introduce this Grand Central Terminal, good article and pictures!

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  14. Ah yes, I've been to this place, and it was awesome. It's like from a different era altogether. By the way, did you see the video by the guys from ImprovEverywhere where they all froze together at the same time?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo

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  15. i wouldn't mind being in queue for few minutes to get a ticket if the train station is this fabulous!
    the last time we've been in similar grandiose old-beauty train station was back in 2005 in auckland, nz.

    i just wish train stations in manila were preserved such as this. oh yes, that reminds me that old manila train station was developed in now known as tutuban mall in divisoria. lol!

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  16. this place is so fascinating. a disneyland for people watchers. i wanted to stay longer here.

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  17. one of many reasons to fall in love with the Big Apple.. we ate lunch at the lower-level dining concourse sometime last year. The pics makes me miss the hustle & bustle of NYC.

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  18. Hi Linguist,
    Thanks for the link. I thought that was a totally different take on theatrical art! I did see a lot of these Improv guys on sidewalks handing out flyers but never paid attention to them. Now I know :)

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