11 secrets of Grand Central
You’ve been to Grand Central, whether it’s to visit the new Apple Store, eat at the iconic Oyster Bar, grab an awesome brew at the Beer Table Pantry, or, you know, actually commute somewhere. Turns out, there’s a lot more hiding under those vaulted ceilings. Here are the 11 secrets of Grand Central:
A once-secret passageway connects the terminal building to the Waldorf-Astoria by trainThe possibility of a clandestine escape is one reason US presidents stay at the hotel when they come to the city. But you already knew that.
One brick in the Northwest corner of the main concourse's ceiling is purposely left uncleanedDespite a complete renovation in the '90s, they apparently left it to show what more than a century of grime -- and cigarette-smoking commuters -- can do to a paint job. Oh, in this pic, it's the brown one near the arch on the left.
The tiny hole in the ceiling on the opposite end of the main concourse? Put there to accommodate a Redstone missile.The tiny puncture accommodated the very top of the missile, which was put on display inside the terminal in 1957. Variants of the rocket would go on to launch Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom into space as part of the Mercury program.
The stars in the celestial panorama are painted with 23-karat goldWeirdly, not 24-karat gold. You didn't know they were painted with gold at all though, did you?
That panorama is also backwardsIt actually appears as it would to someone who is above the cosmos, looking down on Earth -- not the other way around. Some say "it's meant to invoke God's view", while other say "whoops!".
All the lightbulbs in the station are bare because of the VanderbiltsThey built the terminal, and wanted to brag that their building had electricity (it was 1913). The family's symbol, the acorn, is also boastfully plastered all over the terminal.
On an average day, more people go through the terminal (750,000) than live in Alaska (731,000)Although we totally can’t see Russia from Track 24, so there’s that.
There is no air conditioning -- or heat -- in the main concourseThe temperature in all seasons is au naturel.
The train Cary Grant sneaks onto in North by Northwest doesn't exist anymoreA pivotal scene of NxNW was shot at the terminal, but the 20th Century Limited, the train Grant's character sneaks aboard in the film, stopped running in 1967 (and Grand Central no longer accommodates long-distance trains of any kind).
The clock on top of the information booth has been appraised at as much as $20 millionThat's because it has four opal faces. Opal: it’s expensive!
Grand Central has four "off" buttons that can kill the electricity to the entire Metro-North railroad systemDon’t worry: they’re bright red to keep you from accidentally pressing them (also, they’re locked away in the building’s semi-secret subterranean operations room, obviously).
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.
Jefferson Lewis is a freelance contributor for Thrillist NYC. He's spent plenty of time eating oysters in Grand Central and thinks you should too.