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Thread: Grand Central Terminal - 89 East 42nd Street @ Park Avenue - New York's Great Gateway

  1. #16

    Default Grand Central Terminal

    Those two posts of mine were my first in this forum. *How young and naive I was! *Yes, 10:40 am on October 18, 2002. *I remember it well...

  2. #17

    Default Grand Central Terminal

    You mean we don't rock?

  3. #18

    Default Grand Central Terminal

    I suppose the thrill is gone. *These things happen; My relationship with this forum has matured over the years.

  4. #19

    Default Grand Central Terminal


    The mid-sixties were the pits if you were a beaux-arts building trying to survive. Within a two year period, 1965-66, the following atrocities occurred:

    1. Penn Station, the greatest of all beaux-arts buildings on any continent, was demolished in a shocking act of vandalism and shortsighted greed to make way for Madison Square Garden and a dull slab of high rise by Charles Luckman.

    2. The Singer Building, Woolworth's rival for title of greatest of all beaux-arts skyscrapers and once the world's tallest high-rise, was taken down for a gloomy tombstone flattop by SOM. Tallest building ever demolished prior to WTC.

    3. At Grand Army Plaza, the huge and jolly Savoy Plaza Hotel, which used to make such a harmony of pyramidal roofs with its smaller Gallic colleague, the Plaza, was replaced by the streamlined banality of Stone's General Motors Building, now Trump's. That corner of Central Park has never recovered.

    4. Times Square's landmark beaux-arts New York Times Tower was scraped down to the skeleton and reclad in improved modern marble clothing of astonishing Miami Beach banality.

    5. Times Square's vast and mansarded Astor Hotel, the most Parisian of New York's buildings, was pulled down to be replaced by that tailfinned monstrosity, Astor Plaza. Kahn and Jacobs are the perpetrators here. *

    At any point in history, architects reserve their special hatred for the immediately preceding style, against which they are generally reacting or revolting for aesthetic and business reasons. If a competent building can survive the attacks of the immediately subsequent stylistic trend, its survival is generally assured. People will come to recognize it for what it is: an irreplaceable historic document of an era.

    In the mid-Sixties, architects were so committed to heroic and revolutionary Modernism that they did not even recognize such buildings as Penn Station as architecture. Giedion omitted them entirely from his version of architectural history, and Gropius regarded them as works of the Devil. It is ironic that Gropius' New York masterpiece, the stark and austere lobby of the (former) Pan Am Building has itself succumbed to total stylistic bowdlerization to today's version of midbrow kitsch. I'll bet the construction crew carting off the Albers over the escalators didn't even know it was art.

    Of course, in twenty years, when they are threatening the Astor Plaza's fins with a re-do, I guess I'll be there defending them.

  5. #20

    Default Grand Central Terminal

    Well done, ablarc.

  6. #21

    Default Grand Central Terminal

    Breuer's just looks like he used the project as an excuse to build a huge building.

    I have seen most of these pictures before and I think that compared to most, the met life building was the best Idea. Plus it makes a great photo when you look down park avenue.

  7. #22

    Default Synchronizing Grand Central's Clocks

    July 6, 2004

    Got the Time? At Grand Central, It Has Never Been That Simple


    Readings on different displays of the 15-year-old master clock at Grand Central Terminal sometimes drift out of synchronization.

    With upgrades, four faces of the big clock will finally tell one time.

    For years, they have maddened riders. Above information booths, on walls and on platforms, there they are — a babel of different times on different clocks in a place that depends mightily on people knowing the right time.

    Several times a day, riders troop into the stationmaster's office in Grand Central Terminal to complain. Even the four faces of the signature brass clock above the information booth in the main concourse, irate riders often point out, are different.

    The culprit is not the clocks themselves but something that resembles a giant filing cabinet, tucked away in a closet above one of the Beaux-Arts terminal's platforms. It is a 15-year-old master clock system, with dials in the middle and two digital displays.

    It connects each day at 3 a.m. by short wave radio signal with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's atomic clock in Boulder, Colo., and then sends electrical impulses to the terminal's 20-some historic clocks.

    The problem is, the electromechanical devices in the terminal's master clock system that are sending these signals are becoming increasingly unreliable, making the clocks inaccurate. What's more, the time displayed on video monitors throughout the terminal is controlled by a different system, not tied to the atomic clock at all.

    Now, however, officials at Metro-North Railroad, the keepers of the clocks in Grand Central, are setting out to improve things for the 700,000 people who depart or arrive daily on 550 commuter trains and countless subways. Next month, they will install a new $59,000 master clock that will synchronize every second of every day by satellite with the Boulder atomic clock to ensure accuracy up to a fraction of a nanosecond, which is a billionth of a second.

    With the new system will come devices that will be entirely electronic and will not, like the current equipment, use mechanical parts to send pulses to the historic clocks. Then all the older, separate systems will be done away with, unifying time in the terminal for the first time in its 91-year history.

    In other words, if you are late, don't blame the clocks.

    "We will have a dependable clock system that everyone knows is dependable," said Steve Stroh, superintendent of electrical maintenance at Grand Central.

    Mr. Stroh has had the unenviable task of shepherding the current system through its recent changes. Digital clocks in the rail operations center are tied directly to the master clock, and so provide accurate time for those who run the railroad.

    But several times a week, Mr. Stroh walks around the brass clock above the information booth, checking to make sure the faces show the same time. He insists that many riders' complaints come from the fact that the time looks different when the clocks' hands are seen from different angles. Sure enough, a series of inspections by a visitor proves his point.

    But Mr. Stroh admits there are also plenty of times when the clocks have, well, plenty of times.

    "You come in here and think you have a couple of minutes but run down and find the train's just not there," said Andrew Flint, 26, waiting by the historic clock in the main concourse to catch a train to New Haven on Friday.

    Besides the problems with the master clock system, the historic clock's motors are also wearing out, Mr. Stroh explained. A few months ago, he sent one face's motor back to its manufacturer in Switzerland to be repaired.

    As part of all the upgrades, new motors will be ordered for all four clock faces, along with a spare motor in case one breaks. Digital clocks will also be added to platforms, replacing old L.E.D. clocks that were taken down recently because they depended on the same unreliable pulse system.

    Time has always been crucial to the running of railroads. Indeed, timekeeping, as it is known today, was essentially invented out of necessity in the late 1800's by a collection of railroads, including the New York Central, a predecessor of Metro-North.

    Before the railroads, time was a local matter, set in each town according to the sun. Therefore, noon in Cincinnati, for example, would be slightly different from noon in Cleveland. But this was obviously a problem for railroads. Coordination of traffic on the tracks, as well as schedules for picking up passengers, depended on a standardized time system.

    "A train could leave Syracuse at 12 o'clock and come into Utica, and it would still be 12 o'clock," said Pierce Haviland, a Metro-North employee who is also a railroad historian. "That wasn't working."

    At first, railroad managers set up 100 different railroad time zones, but that proved too complicated. Finally, on Nov. 18, 1883, four standard time zones — Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific — were adopted by the railroads. At noon on that day, the time was transmitted by telegraph from the United States Naval Observatory in Washington to all the railroads in the United States and Canada. Twice a day thereafter, railroad clocks were resynchronized with the Naval Observatory's clock.

    However, it was not until 1918, when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, that the railroads' time zones became the standard for everyone in the United States.

    "They didn't invent time, obviously," said Mr. Haviland. "But as far as standard time and time zones, they certainly mandated the need for it, and they were the first adopters."

    In recent years, more and more transportation hubs, along with telecommunications companies, radio and television stations and utilities, have begun upgrading to satellite-based technology. Such technology allows them to synchronize with one of the country's official atomic clocks down to the nanosecond.

    The term "atomic clock" is often misunderstood, said Michael Newman, a spokesman for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which provides the official time for the United States. It is not nuclear-powered, but simply a timekeeping device that uses the regular vibrations of a specific atom to keep time in somewhat the same way that a clock pendulum's movements mark the passage of time.

    Most, if not all, airports in the country now depend on a system similar to the one Metro-North will be adopting, tied to Boulder's atomic clock. Railroad stations, however, have been slower to follow.

    In November, Penn Station upgraded to a system that connects to the atomic clock, according to officials at Amtrak, which owns the station. Previously, the station relied on a more haphazard system that required someone to actually call up a place that had an atomic clock to check that the station's clocks were synchronized correctly. The station's clocks would then be adjusted by computer.

    Faced with conflicting information, veterans of Grand Central have learned to employ their own systems to keep track of time.

    "I never look at the clocks because I don't trust them," said David Turner, 23, a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie who often takes trains in and out of the city on weekends. "I just use the clock on my phone."

    Many Metro-North workers do not trust the clocks either. Train conductors use their own wristwatches to decide when to leave, said Dan Brucker, a spokesman for the railroad, although they are required to synchronize their watches periodically with either the video monitors or the operations center.

    The railroad prides itself on a reported on-time performance of better than 95 percent. But for anyone who has ever been frustrated by a late train, there is now the obvious question: Which clock are they using?

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  8. #23


    hy, i have to model the grand central terminal in 3d. i have found some usefull images via google. but nothing from the back. so need to know how the grand central terminal looks from the back (metlife b. site). can anybody help me?

  9. #24


    its not to urgent. i have the hole august to complete a series of important ny landmarks ... and this building is the first one i cant find all i need.

  10. #25


    Grand Central- New York's Gateway...for Westchester and Connecticut. Shame it can only rarely be experienced by anyone else in the region (unless they're in the mood for sightseeing) or for that matter, other cities. If only it could be an intercity station...

  11. #26
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Nairobi Hilton


    It was intercity until about ten years ago -

  12. #27


    To where? Montreal?

  13. #28


    Quote Originally Posted by czsz
    To where? Montreal?
    All Amtrak upstate, and also Montreal, routes used to leave from Grand Central. They were stopped when the tracks down through Riverdale and the west side were rehabbed and the connection into Penn was upgraded.

  14. #29
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Sep 2004


    When I took the nerdy tour at grand central (stumbled into it on my way out of work) the guide said that the entire upstairs concourse was designed to service intercity service (the vanderbilt room was arriving trains, and the main room was departing) and that only the lower level was for commuters.

  15. #30


    Historically, Grand Central was used by the New York Central and the New Haven Railroads, back before the creation of Amtrak and MetroNorth. New York Central's tracks went up the Hudson to Albany and from there ran east to Boston and west to Cleveland, Chicago and St. Louis. The New Haven ran through New Haven up to Boston. Penn Station was served by the Pennsylvania Railroad, whose tracks went south to Philadelphia and Washington and west to Chicago and St. Louis through Pittsburgh.

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