Top 10 Fun Facts About Grand Central Terminal

interesting facts about grand central terminal

It’s one of the most famous railway stations in the world and a popular landmark in New York City. Here are some fun facts about Grand Central Terminal.

Interesting facts about Grand Central Terminal

1. It’s located in between multiple famous skyscrapers

Grand Central Terminal is a popular railway station in New York City. It’s located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It’s the southern terminus station of lines serving the northern part of the New York Metropolitan Area.

Right next to the terminal building there are several iconic skyscrapers, including the Chrysler Building to the east, the MetLife Building to the north, and the newly constructed One Vanderbilt to the west.

Interesting facts about grand central station

2. It was built in the early 20th century

Construction of the Grand Central Terminal started in the year 1903 and was completed in the year 1913 with the station officially opening on February 2 of that year.

The building covers a total area of 48 acres (19 hectares) and consists of 44 platforms, the most number of platforms of any railway station in the world!

Grand Central Terminal
The building / Beyond my Ken / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

3. It’s famous for its Beaux-Arts design

The building itself is world-famous for its amazing Beaux-Arts design, and especially the façade of the building. The overall design was completed by architectural and engineering firm “Reed and Stem,” while the decorative elements were taken care of by “Warren and Wetmore.”

Apart from these two main contributing firms, multiple French artists had a hand in the details of the design as well, such as Jules-Félix Coutan, Sylvain Salières, and Paul César Helleu.

Statue created by French Sculptor Jules Coutan
Statue created by French Sculptor Jules Coutan / Wiki Commons

4. It was named after the company that constructed it

The company in charge of the project, which cost $35 million USD to complete, was the New York Central Railroad, a railroad company that operated all across the Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic regions of the United States.

Originally, the name given to the station was the “Grand Central Station,” a reference to the earlier station that as located on the same site. Its name was changed to Grand Central Terminal, which was still a reference to the company that constructed it.

Grand Central Terminal
The terminal / Eric Baetscher / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

5. There were two earlier train stations on its location

The original building on the site was called the Grand Central Depot and was constructed as a central station for the Hudson River Railroad, the New York and Harlem Railroad, and the New York and New Haven Railroad.

The construction of this first building started on September 1, 1869, and the depot was completed by October 1871.

Grand Central Depot
Grand Central Depot in the 19th century. / Wiki Commons

The Grand Central Depot didn’t suffice anymore as New York City grew quickly in the late 19th century. By 1897, about 11.5 million passengers boarded trains at this station every year.

Therefore, the old Grand Central Station was built shortly after and was completed in the year 1900, opening in October of that year.

Grand Central Station
The Grand Central Station in the year 1902. / Wiki Commons

One of the most remarkable facts about Grand Central Terminal is that the Grand Central Station was only operational for a couple of years before being torn down. It was deemed insufficient and had to make way for Grand Central Terminal.

By June 1903, the $35 million USD needed was approved by the railroad’s board and a new design was submitted shortly after so construction could commence.

Grand Central Terminal design
The design submitted for the Grand Central Terminal in 1905 / Wiki Commons

6. Grand Central Terminal consists of two levels of tracks

Construction of the Grand Central Terminal had to be done in 8 phases as not to interrupt the train schedule for the millions of yearly passengers.

Most of the work wasn’t of the building itself, but the preparation work. The old Grand Central Station had to be demolished and excavation works had to be carried out to allow the construction of the 44 platforms, all of which are located below ground level.

There are two levels of platforms and the upper level consists of 30 tracks and the lower level of 26 tracks. There are about two dozen more tracks which are used to store trains as well.

Grand Central Terminal profile
Grand Central Terminal profile / Wiki Commons

7. Construction of the building was a huge endeavor

To say that constructing Grand Central Terminal was a massive project is an understatement. It was to become the biggest railway station in the world at the time and it took a lot of manpower to get things done.

A total of 10,000 construction workers were hired to demolish the old Grand Central Station, to excavate the site, and for the new building and tracks to be constructed.

After the old station was demolished, 3.2 million cubic yards (2,400,000 cubic meters) of soil were excavated at a rate of 1,000 cubic yards (760 cubic meters) per day.

Construction took almost 10 years and was fully completed when the new terminal was opened on February 2, 1913.

Grand Central Terminal Construction site in 1912
Grand Central Terminal Construction site in 1912 / Wiki Commons

8. A clock in the main concourse is worth up to $20 million USD

One of the most iconic images of Grand Central Terminal is that of its Main Concourse, an area that is officially referred to as the “Express Concourse.”

This area is located right in the center of the building and covers an area of 35,000 square feet (3,300 square meters). It’s often used as a meeting place and is visited by over 21.6 million tourists every year, a number that excludes train and subway passengers.

Grand Central Terminal main concourse

In the middle of this Main Concourse, there’s an information booth and more importantly, a very famous clock on top of it.

This 4-sided brass clock has been described as one of New York’s most recognizable icons and has been valued by auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s between $10 million and $20 million USD!

The information booth and clock in Grand Central Terminal
The information booth and clock / M / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

9. Grand Central Terminal was ranked as fourth-favorite building in the city

Grand Central Terminal is one of the most popular structures in the United States. A public survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects has revealed that it’s the 4th most popular building in New York City and the 13th most popular in the entire country.

Only the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were deemed more popular in New York City, while world-famous icons such as the Washington Monument, the White House, and the Golden Gate Bridge were considered more popular nationwide.

Grand Central Terminal facade

10. It’s been featured in numerous films

One of the main reasons that Grand Central Terminal is so iconic and widely popular is because it has been featured in numerous popular movies. the iconic Main Concourse has been prominently used because of its authenticity regarding transportation scenes in New York.

Some of the most famous films it has been featured in are “Carlito’s Way” (1993), “Armageddon” (1998), “Men in Black II” (2002), “I Am Legend” (2007), and “The Avengers” (2012).

Below you can watch the scene in “I Am Legend” with Will Smith in which Grand Central Terminal appears and which was shot on location:

This concludes our top 10 list of facts about Grand Central Terminal, one of the most famous landmarks in New York City and all of the United States!

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