|Metro-North Railroad terminal|
|Location||89 East 42nd Street|
Manhattan, New York City
|Managed by||George Monasterio (director)|
|Line(s)||Park Avenue Tunnel (Hudson Line)|
|Platforms||44: 43 island platforms, 1 side platform|
(6 tracks with Spanish solution)
|Tracks||67: 56 passenger tracks (30 on upper level, 26 on lower level)|
43 in use for passenger service
at Grand Central Madison (future)
New York City Subway:
at Grand Central–42nd Street
NYCT Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4, M42, M101, M102, M103, Q32
NYCT Bus, MTA Bus, Academy Bus: express services
|Platform levels||Two open, two under construction|
|Disabled access||Accessible[N 1]|
Opened February 2, 1913
|FY 2018||67 million annually, based on weekly estimate 0.6% (Metro-North)|
|Architect||Reed and Stem;|
Warren and Wetmore
|Visitors||21.6 million (in 2018)|
|Designated||December 8, 1976|
|Designated||January 17, 1975|
August 11, 1983 (increase)
|Reference no.||75001206, 83001726|
|Designated||August 2, 1967 (facade)|
September 23, 1980 (interior)
|Reference no.||0266 (facade)|
Grand Central Terminal (GCT; also referred to as Grand Central Station[N 2] or simply as Grand Central) is a commuter rail terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Grand Central is the southern terminus of the Metro-North Railroad's Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, serving the northern parts of the New York metropolitan area. It also contains a connection to the New York City Subway at Grand Central–42nd Street station. The terminal is the second-busiest train station in North America, after New York Penn Station.
The distinctive architecture and interior design of Grand Central Terminal's station house have earned it several landmark designations, including as a National Historic Landmark. Its Beaux-Arts design incorporates numerous works of art. Grand Central Terminal is one of the world's ten most visited tourist attractions, with 21.6 million visitors in 2018, excluding train and subway passengers. The terminal's Main Concourse is often used as a meeting place, and is especially featured in films and television. Grand Central Terminal contains a variety of stores and food vendors, including upscale restaurants and bars, a food hall, and a grocery marketplace. The building is also noted for its libraries, event hall, tennis club, control center and offices for the railroad, and sub-basement power station.
Grand Central Terminal was built by and named for the New York Central Railroad; it also served the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and, later, successors to the New York Central. Opened in 1913, the terminal was built on the site of two similarly-named predecessor stations, the first of which dates to 1871. Grand Central Terminal served intercity trains until 1991, when Amtrak began routing its trains through nearby Penn Station. The East Side Access project, which will bring Long Island Rail Road service to the new Grand Central Madison station beneath the terminal, is expected to be completed in late 2022.
Grand Central covers 48 acres (19 ha) and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world. Its platforms, all below ground, serve 30 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower. In total, there are 67 tracks, including a rail yard and sidings; of these, 43 tracks are in use for passenger service, while the remaining two dozen are used to store trains.[N 3] Another eight tracks and four platforms are being built on two new levels deep underneath the existing station as part of East Side Access.
Grand Central Terminal was named by and for the New York Central Railroad, which built the station and its two predecessors on the site. It has "always been more colloquially and affectionately known as Grand Central Station", the name of its immediate predecessor[N 2] that operated from 1900 to 1910. The name "Grand Central Station" is also shared with the nearby U.S. Post Office station at 450 Lexington Avenue and, colloquially, with the Grand Central–42nd Street subway station next to the terminal.
Grand Central Terminal serves some 67 million passengers a year, more than any other Metro-North station. During morning rush hour, a train arrives at the terminal every 58 seconds.
Three of Metro-North's five main lines terminate at Grand Central:
Through these lines, the terminal serves Metro-North commuters traveling to and from the Bronx in New York City; Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York; and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut.
The New York City Subway's adjacent Grand Central–42nd Street station serves the following routes:
These MTA Regional Bus Operations buses stop near Grand Central:
The terminal and its predecessors were designed for intercity service, which operated from the first station building's completion in 1871 until Amtrak ceased operations in the terminal in 1991. Through transfers, passengers could connect to all major lines in the United States, including the Canadian, the Empire Builder, the San Francisco Zephyr, the Southwest Limited, the Crescent, and the Sunset Limited under Amtrak. Destinations included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, New Orleans, Chicago, and Montreal. Another notable former train was New York Central's 20th Century Limited, a luxury service that operated to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station between 1902 and 1967 and was among the most famous trains of its time.
From 1971 to 1991, all Amtrak trains using the intrastate Empire Corridor to Niagara Falls terminated at Grand Central; interstate Northeast Corridor trains used Penn Station. Notable Amtrak services at Grand Central included the Lake Shore, Empire Service, Adirondack, Niagara Rainbow, Maple Leaf, and Empire State Express.
Main article: East Side Access
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to bring Long Island Rail Road commuter trains to the new Grand Central Madison station beneath Grand Central as part of its East Side Access project. The project will connect the terminal to the railroad's Main Line, which connects to all of the LIRR's branches and almost all of its stations. As of October 2021[update], service is expected to begin in December 2022.
Grand Central Terminal was designed and built with two main levels for passengers: an upper for intercity trains and a lower for commuter trains. This configuration, devised by New York Central vice president William J. Wilgus, separated intercity and commuter-rail passengers, smoothing the flow of people in and through the station. After intercity service ended in 1991, the upper level was renamed the Main Concourse and the lower the Dining Concourse.
The original plan for Grand Central's interior was designed by Reed and Stem, with some work by Whitney Warren of Warren and Wetmore.
Main article: Main Concourse
The Main Concourse is located on the upper platform level of Grand Central, in the geographical center of the station building. The 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) concourse leads directly to most of the terminal's upper-level tracks, although some are accessed from passageways near the concourse. The Main Concourse is usually filled with bustling crowds and is often used as a meeting place. At the center of the concourse is an information booth topped with a four-sided brass clock, one of Grand Central's most recognizable icons. The terminal's main departure boards are located at the south end of the space. The boards have been replaced numerous times since their initial installation in 1967.
In their design for the station's interior, Reed & Stem created a circulation system that allowed passengers alighting from trains to enter the Main Concourse, then leave through various passages that branch from it. Among these are the north–south 42nd Street Passage and Shuttle Passage, which run south to 42nd Street; and three east–west passageways — the Grand Central Market, the Graybar Passage, and the Lexington Passage — that run about 240 feet (73 m) east to Lexington Avenue by 43rd Street. Several passages run north of the terminal, including the north–south 45th Street Passage, which leads to 45th Street and Madison Avenue, and the network of tunnels in Grand Central North, which lead to exits at every street from 45th to 48th Street.
Each of the east–west passageways runs through a different building. The northernmost is the Graybar Passage, built on the first floor of the Graybar Building in 1926. Its walls and seven large transverse arches are made of coursed ashlar travertine, and the floor is terrazzo. The ceiling is composed of seven groin vaults, each of which has an ornamental bronze chandelier. The first two vaults, as viewed from leaving Grand Central, are painted with cumulus clouds, while the third contains a 1927 mural by Edward Trumbull depicting American transportation.
The middle passageway houses Grand Central Market, a cluster of food shops. The site was originally a segment of 43rd Street which became the terminal's first service dock in 1913. In 1975, a Greenwich Savings Bank branch was built in the space, which was converted into the marketplace in 1998, and involved installing a new limestone facade on the building. The building's second story, whose balcony overlooks the market and 43rd Street, was to house a restaurant, but is instead used for storage.
The southernmost of the three, the Lexington Passage, was originally known as the Commodore Passage after the Commodore Hotel, which it ran through. When the hotel was renamed the Grand Hyatt, the passage was likewise renamed. The passage acquired its current name during the terminal's renovation in the 1990s.
The Shuttle Passage, on the west side of the terminal, connects the Main Concourse to Grand Central's subway station. The terminal was originally configured with two parallel passages, later simplified into one wide passageway.
Ramps include the Vanderbilt Avenue ramp and the Oyster Bar ramps. The Vanderbilt Avenue or Kitty Kelly ramp leads from the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street down into the Shuttle Passage. The ramp was likewise restored in 1998; originally and currently its space was two stories high. Most of the space was built upon, becoming the Kitty Kelly women's shoe store, and later operating as Federal Express.
The Oyster Bar ramps lead down from the Main Concourse to the Oyster Bar and Dining Concourse. They span a total of 302 ft (92 m) from east to west under an 84 ft (26 m) ceiling. The ramps were partially covered by expanded main-floor ticket offices from 1927 until the terminal's restoration in 1998. A pedestrian overpass spans over the ramps, leading from Vanderbilt Hall to the Main Concourse. The bridge has been visible since 1998, restoring the original appearance with one minor change – the bridge now has a low balustrade, replacing an eight-foot-high solid wall that blocked views between the two levels. The underside of the bridge is covered with Guastavino tiling. The bridge's arches create a whispering gallery: a person standing in one corner can hear another speaking softly in the diagonally opposite corner.
Grand Central North is a network of four tunnels that allow people to walk between the station building (which sits between 42nd and 44th Street) and exits at 45th, 46th, 47th, and 48th Street. The 1,000-foot (300 m) Northwest Passage and 1,200-foot (370 m) Northeast Passage run parallel to the tracks on the upper level, while two shorter cross-passages run perpendicular to the tracks. The 47th Street cross-passage runs between the upper and lower tracks, 30 feet (9.1 m) below street level; it provides access to upper-level tracks. The 45th Street cross-passage runs under the lower tracks, 50 feet (15 m) below street level. Converted from a corridor built to transport luggage and mail, it provides access to lower-level tracks. The cross-passages are connected to the platforms via 37 stairs, six elevators, and five escalators.
The tunnels' street-level entrances, each enclosed by a freestanding glass structure, sit at the northeast corner of East 47th Street and Madison Avenue (Northwest Passage), northeast corner of East 48th Street and Park Avenue (Northeast Passage), on the east and west sides of 230 Park Avenue (Helmsley Building) between 45th and 46th streets, and (since 2012) on the south side of 47th Street between Park and Lexington avenues. Pedestrians can also take an elevator to the 47th Street passage from the north side of East 47th Street, between Madison and Vanderbilt avenues; this entrance adjoined the former 270 Park Avenue.
Proposals for these tunnels had been discussed since at least the 1970s. The MTA approved preliminary plans in 1983, gave final approval in 1991, and began construction in 1994. Dubbed the North End Access Project, the work was to be completed in 1997 at a cost of $64.5 million, but it was slowed by the incomplete nature of the building's original blueprints and by previously undiscovered groundwater beneath East 45th Street. The passageways opened on August 18, 1999, at a final cost of $75 million.
The project entailed enclosing existing passageways with glazed-terrazzo walls. The Northeast Passage's walls have blue-green accents while the Northwest Passage's walls have red accents. The ceilings are 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3.0 m) high. The cross-passages' ceilings are blue-green, the same color as the Main Concourse, and have recessed lighting that is arranged to resemble the Main Concourse's constellations. Originally, Grand Central North had no restrooms or air-conditioning. The passages contain an MTA Arts & Design mosaic installation by Ellen Driscoll, an artist from Brooklyn.
The entrances to Grand Central North were originally open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. During weekends and holidays, the 47th and 48th Street entrances were open on 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., while the two entrances to the Helmsley Building were closed. About 30,000 people used it on a typical weekday, but only about 6,000 people used it on a typical weekend. As part of the 2005–2008 Financial Plan, the MTA proposed closing the passageways on weekends, citing low usage and the need to save money. Since summer 2006, Grand Central North has been closed on weekends.
Vanderbilt Hall is an event space on the south side of the terminal, between the main entrance and the Main Concourse to its north. The space is lit by Beaux-Arts chandeliers, each with 132 bulbs on four tiers. Vanderbilt Hall was formerly the main waiting room for the terminal, used particularly by intercity travelers. The space featured double-sided oak benches and could seat 700 people. When intercity service ceased at Grand Central in 1991, hundreds of homeless people began using the room. The terminal's managers first removed the room's benches before closing the space entirely.[N 4]
In 1998, the hall was renovated and renamed after the Vanderbilt family, which built and owned the station. It is used for the annual Christmas Market, as well as for special exhibitions and private events. From 2016 to 2020, the west half of the hall held the Great Northern Food Hall, an upscale Nordic-themed food court with five pavilions. The food hall was the first long-term tenant of the space; the terminal's landmark status prevents permanent installations.
Since 1999, Vanderbilt Hall has hosted the annual Tournament of Champions squash championship. Each January, tournament officials construct a free-standing glass-enclosed 21-by-32-foot (6.4 by 9.8 m) squash court. Like a theatre in the round, spectators sit on three sides of the court.
South of Vanderbilt Hall is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer, which leads south to the main entrance on 42nd Street. A men's smoking room and women's waiting room were formerly located on the west and east sides of Vanderbilt Hall, respectively. In 2016, the men's room was renovated into Agern, an 85-seat Nordic-themed fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurant operated by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer, who also ran the food hall. Both venues permanently closed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. City Winery signed a lease for both the food hall and the Agern space in 2022, and it opened a wine bar, a quick-service restaurant named City Jams, and a farm-to-table restaurant named Cornelius in these spaces that November.
The Biltmore Room is a 64-by-80-foot (20 by 24 m) marble hall northwest of the Main Concourse that serves as an entrance to tracks 39 through 42. Completed in 1915 directly beneath the New York Biltmore Hotel, it originally served as a waiting room for intercity trains known formally as the incoming train room and colloquially as the "Kissing Room".
As the station's passenger traffic declined in mid-century, the room fell into neglect. In 1982 and 1983, the room was damaged during the construction that converted the Biltmore Hotel into the Bank of America Plaza. In 1985, Giorgio Cavaglieri was hired to restore the room, which at the time had cracked marble and makeshift lighting. During that era, a series of lockers was still located within the Biltmore Room. Later, the room held a newsstand, flower stand, and shoe shine booths. In 2015, the MTA awarded a contract to refurbish the Biltmore Room into an arrival area for Long Island Rail Road passengers as part of the East Side Access project. As part of the project, the room's booths and stands are being replaced by a pair of escalators and an elevator to the deep-level LIRR concourse.
The room's blackboard displayed the arrival and departure times of New York Central trains until 1967, when a mechanical board was installed in the Main Concourse.
The Station Master's Office, located near Track 36, has Grand Central's only dedicated waiting room. The space has benches, restrooms, and a floral mixed-media mural on three of its walls. The room's benches were previously located in the former waiting room, now known as Vanderbilt Hall. Since 2008, the area has offered free Wi-Fi.
One of the retail areas of the Graybar Passage, currently occupied by wine-and-liquor store Central Cellars, was formerly the Grand Central Theatre or Terminal Newsreel Theatre. Opened in 1937 with 25-cent admission, the theater showed short films, cartoons, and newsreels from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Designed by Tony Sarg, it had 242 stadium-style seats and a standing-room section with armchairs. A small bar sat near the entrance. The theater's interior had simple pine walls spaced out to eliminate echos, along with an inglenook, a fireplace, and an illuminated clock for the convenience of travelers. The walls of the lobby, dubbed the "appointment lounge", were covered with world maps; the ceiling had an astronomical mural painted by Sarg. The New York Times reported a cost of $125,000 for the theater's construction, which was attributed to construction of an elevator between the theater and the suburban concourse as well as air conditioning and apparatuses for people hard of hearing.
The theater stopped showing newsreels by 1968 but continued operating until around 1979, when it was gutted for retail space. A renovation in the early 2000s removed a false ceiling, revealing the theater's projection window and its astronomical mural, which proved similar in colors and style to the Main Concourse ceiling.
Access to the lower-level tracks is provided by the Dining Concourse, located below the Main Concourse and connected to it by numerous stairs, ramps, and escalators. For decades, it was called the Suburban Concourse because it handled commuter rail trains. Today, it has central seating and lounge areas, surrounded by restaurants and food vendors. The shared public seating in the concourse was designed resembling Pullman traincars. These areas are frequented by the homeless, and as a result, in the mid-2010s the MTA created two areas with private seating for dining customers.
The terminal's late-1990s renovation added stands and restaurants to the concourse, and installed escalators to link it to the main concourse level. The MTA also spent $2.2 million to install two circular terrazzo designs by David Rockwell and Beyer Blinder Belle, each 45 feet in diameter, over the concourse's original terrazzo floor. Since 2015, part of the Dining Concourse has been closed for the construction of stairways and escalators to the new LIRR terminal being built as part of East Side Access.
A small square-framed clock is installed in the ceiling near Tracks 108 and 109. It was manufactured at an unknown time by the Self Winding Clock Company, which made several others in the terminal. The clock hung inside the gate at Track 19 until 2011, when it was moved so it would not be blocked by lights added during upper-level platform improvements.
Metro-North's lost-and-found bureau sits near Track 100 at the far east end of the Dining Concourse. Incoming items are sorted according to function and date: for instance, there are separate bins for hats, gloves, belts, and ties. The sorting system was computerized in the 1990s. Lost items are kept for up to 90 days before being donated or auctioned off.
As early as 1920, the bureau received between 15,000 and 18,000 items a year. By 2002, the bureau was collecting "3,000 coats and jackets; 2,500 cellphones; 2,000 sets of keys; 1,500 wallets, purses and ID's [sic]; and 1,100 umbrellas" a year. By 2007, it was collecting 20,000 items a year, 60% of which were eventually claimed. In 2013, the bureau reported an 80% return rate, among the highest in the world for a transit agency.
Some of the more unusual items collected by the bureau include fake teeth, prosthetic body parts, legal documents, diamond pouches, live animals, and a $100,000 violin. One story has it that a woman purposely left her unfaithful husband's ashes on a Metro-North train before collecting them three weeks later. In 1996, some of the lost-and-found items were displayed at an art exhibition.
Grand Central Terminal contains restaurants such as the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant and various fast food outlets surrounding the Dining Concourse. There are also delis, bakeries, a gourmet and fresh food market, and an annex of the New York Transit Museum. The 40-plus retail stores include newsstands and chain stores, including a Starbucks coffee shop, a Rite Aid pharmacy, and an Apple Store. The Oyster Bar, the oldest business in the terminal, sits next to the Dining Concourse and below Vanderbilt Hall.
An elegantly restored cocktail lounge, the Campbell, sits just south of the 43rd Street/Vanderbilt Avenue entrance. A mix of commuters and tourists access it from the street or the balcony level. The space was once the office of 1920s tycoon John W. Campbell, who decorated it to resemble the galleried hall of a 13th-century Florentine palace. In 1999, it opened as a bar, the Campbell Apartment; a new owner renovated and renamed it the Campbell in 2017.
From 1939 to 1964, CBS Television occupied a large portion of the terminal building, particularly in a third-floor space above Vanderbilt Hall. The CBS offices, called "The Annex", contained two "program control" facilities (43 and 44); network master control; facilities for local station WCBS-TV; and, after World War II, two 700,000-square-foot (65,000 m2) production studios (41 and 42). The total space measured 225 ft × 60 ft × 40 ft (69 m × 18 m × 12 m). Broadcasts were transmitted from an antenna atop the nearby Chrysler Building installed by order of CBS chief executive William S. Paley, and were also shown on a large screen in the Main Concourse. In 1958, CBS opened the world's first major videotape operations facility in Grand Central. Located in a former rehearsal room on the seventh floor, the facility used 14 Ampex VR-1000 videotape recorders.
Douglas Edwards with the News broadcast from Grand Central for several years, covering John Glenn's 1962 Mercury-Atlas 6 space flight and other events. Edward R. Murrow's See It Now originated there, including his famous broadcasts on Senator Joseph McCarthy, which were recreated in George Clooney's movie Good Night, and Good Luck, although the film incorrectly implies that CBS News and corporate offices were in the same building. The long-running panel show What's My Line? was first broadcast from Grand Central, as were The Goldbergs and Mama. CBS eventually moved its operations to the CBS Broadcast Center on 57th Street.
In 1966, the vacated studio space was converted into the Vanderbilt Athletic Club, a sports club named for the hall just below. Founded by Geza A. Gazdag, an athlete and Olympic coach who fled Hungary amid its 1956 revolution, its two tennis courts were once deemed the most expensive place to play the game—$58 an hour—until financial recessions forced the club to lower the hourly fee to $40. Club amenities included a 65-by-30-foot (19.8 m × 9.1 m) nylon ski slope, a health club facility and sauna, and spaces for golf, fencing, gymnastics, and ballet practice. Gazdag's business was evicted from Grand Central in 1976, amid a lease dispute. In 1984, the club was purchased by real estate magnate Donald Trump, who discovered it while renovating the terminal's exterior. In 2009, the MTA planned a new conductor lounge in the space, and terminated Trump's lease that year. It divided the space into three floors, with the lounge on the original third floor. A single tennis court was added on the new fourth floor in 2010, along with two practice alleys on the new fifth floor. Trump found the new space too small to release, and so the current Vanderbilt Tennis Club operates independent of Trump.
Grand Central Terminal's 48-acre (19 ha) basements are among the largest in the city. Basement spaces include M42, which has AC-to-DC converters to power the track's third rails, as well as Carey's Hole, a former retail storage space and present-day employee lounge and dormitory.
Grand Central Terminal contains an underground sub-basement known as M42. Its electrical substation is divided into substation 1T, which provides 16,500 kilowatts (22,100 hp) for third-rail power, and substation 1L, which provides 8,000 kilowatts (11,000 hp) for other lighting and power. The substation—the world's largest at the time—was built about 100 feet (30 m) under the Graybar Building at a cost of $3 million, and opened February 16, 1930. It occupies a four-story space with an area of 250 by 50 feet (76 by 15 m).
Another part of the basement is known as Carey's Hole. The two-story section is directly beneath the Shuttle Passage and adjacent spaces. In 1913, when the terminal opened, J. P. Carey opened a barbershop adjacent to and one level below the terminal's waiting room (now Vanderbilt Hall). Carey's business expanded to include a laundry service, shoe store, and haberdashery. In 1921, Carey also ran a limousine service using Packard cars, and in the 1930s, he added regular car and bus service to the city's airports as they opened. Carey would store his merchandise in an unfinished, underground area of the terminal, which railroad employees and maintenance staff began calling "Carey's Hole". The name has remained even as the space has been used for different purposes, including currently as a lounge and dormitory for railroad employees.
The terminal holds the Guinness World Record for having the most platforms of any railroad station: 28, which support 44 platform numbers. All are island platforms except one side platform. Odd-numbered tracks are usually on the east side of the platform; even-numbered tracks on the west side. As of 2016[update], there are 67 tracks, of which 43 are in regular passenger use, serving Metro-North. At its opening, the train shed contained 123 tracks, including duplicate track numbers and storage tracks, with a combined length of 19.5 miles (31.4 km).
The tracks slope down as they exit the station to the north, to help departing trains accelerate and arriving ones slow down. Because of the size of the rail yards, Park Avenue and its side streets from 43rd to 59th Streets are raised on viaducts, and the surrounding blocks were covered over by various buildings.
At its busiest, the terminal is served by an arriving train every 58 seconds.
Grand Central track map
Metro-North upper level
Metro-North lower level
LIRR upper & lower level (future)