America’s greatest train station is Grand Central Terminal. While hundreds of thousands of people commute through the terminal every day, and nearly every tourist who comes to New York stops by, I had the opportunity (and the zoom) to check out close ups of some of the details.
The feature photo is a closeup of the clock and sculptures that are at the top of Grand Central facing south towards Park Avenue.
Let’s head inside.
The iconic information kiosk clock backed by one of the schedule boards. The information kiosk is reached via an internal spiral staircase from the lower level of the terminal.
The clock was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. The clock has made appearances in numerous movies including North by Northwest, The Fisher King, the Godfather and others.
The Beaux Arts Chandeliers frame the Main Concourse, with five on both the north and south side.
The bulbs have a basic look to them, but in reality they were replaced in 2009 with far more efficient fluorescent ones.
Looking up from one of the lower level walkways you see a chandelier, skylights in the ceiling and the famed ceiling.
There are numerous photos on display in the terminal showing sunlight beaming through the side windows – something that is no longer possible because of the tall buildings surrounding GCT.
Also in the lower level are some classic wooden benches. Before a restoration in the 1970s these benches were used for waiting passengers in the Main Concourse.
Since then, their primary use has been in the food court in the lower level, but others are in the corners of the lower level.
In addition the Springfield, Massachusetts train station recently installed some restored GCT wooden benches that were unused. They are currently on ‘permanent loan’ to Springfield, who restored them as part of the deal.
While technically not in Grand Central Terminal, the Graybar Building has been closely associated with GCT since it’s construction in 1927.
The building has the classic art deco mailboxes in the granite wall, as you walk through the GCT passage to Lexington Avenue (more on the Graybar Building later).
Back in the Main Concourse one of the chandeliers accents the departure boards perfectly.
The famous sky ceiling – 125 feet across and hung from steel trusses, the ceiling has 2,500 gold stars.
One of the earliest passengers in 1913 quickly figured out that the sky is ‘backwards’, on the ceiling east is on the west side of the concourse, and vice versa.
Until the 1990s the grime was so bad the ceiling was barely noticeable. As a reminder they have left a black patch to show how dirty it was.
A random look up shows amazing detail.
GCT ‘hidden’ high up on one of the side walls.
A ticket sellers window.
Down in the lower level even the elevator lobbies have amazing detail.
As do the track entrances.
Heading out onto Lexington Avenue we see the main entrance to the Graybar Building. Note the giant reliefs on each side.
Eagles are a recurring them in GCT, and the entire area.
More detail on the exterior of the Graybar Building.
The Graybar Rats – The sculpted rats are depicted as though they are climbing ropes that anchor a ship. In reality it is what is holding up the canopy over the entrance.
Other canopy supports have more traditional artwork on them.
Easily one of the most overlooked vintage New York Skyscrapers, the Graybar is worth spending some time looking up at.
Another building that is closely associated with GCT is the Helmsley Building.
While not quite as famous as GCT’s clock facing south, the Helmsley clock greets the Park Avenue traffic coming from the north.
This building too has numerous gargoyles and other sculptures throughout.
More Helmsley Building detail.
The former Postum Building at 250 Park Avenue is a prewar survivor where all the other buildings of it’s time (circa 1924) have long since been torn down and replaced with taller, newer giant glass boxes.
Finally one last look at another of the famed GCT Eagles.