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

  1. #121
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    West Harlem


    Yeah. I had a professor who told us if we even mentioned anything classical she'd fail us. Probably wasn't serious but boy did she hate anything that wasn't totally contemporary. Luckily that was first year.

  2. #122
    Forum Veteran TREPYE's Avatar
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    Brooklyn, NY


    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
    Architecture students are actually taught to think like that in most institutions.
    That explains the vapid state of most contemporary architects and their correlative outputs.

  3. #123
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Grand Central Terminal: 100 and still growing

    Looming improvements in and around Grand Central will make it more vital than ever.

    By Daniel Geiger

    After buying the 44-story office tower at 140 E. 45th St. last year, executives at Rockwood Capital began hearing about a strange phenomenon. Most of the building's tenants were coming and going via the building's back door on East 44th Street, the one next to the loading dock.

    Rather than fight it, Rockwood is spending millions of dollars to glam up that entrance, including handsomely walling off the loading dock. The improvements are designed not just to please the property's tenants but to capitalize on the property's biggest asset: its proximity to Grand Central Terminal, just a block from the rear door.

    "Forty-fourth Street is not going to feel like a back entrance anymore," said Diana Shieh, an executive at Rockwood who oversees the building.

    Rockwood's move is just one of many by which countless landlords and tenants alike are demonstrating that even at the ripe old age of 100, the grand dame of New York's transit hubs is more central and vital than ever. What's more, with the planned arrival by 2020 of Long Island Rail Road trains in Grand Central's sub-basement and the expected rezoning of the surrounding neighborhood to spur development of a whole new generation of bigger, smarter office buildings, the terminal is destined to become only more important.

    "When the LIRR link opens, it will bring about 80,000 new commuters per day through the terminal," said an MTA spokeswoman. Those new faces will add to the roughly 800,000 people—including tourists and, increasingly, shoppers—who will pass through the building each day by the end of the decade.

    Similarly, the extension of the 7 subway line—which runs beneath the station out to Manhattan's newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, just beginning to rise west of Penn Station—will further knit the terminal into the city's future growth.

    In a sort of virtuous circle, it is those beefier transportation links that effectively lay the groundwork for the big new towers, which are expected to add 10 million square feet or more of additional space in the coming decades—the equivalent of more than three Empire State Buildings—and their tens of thousands of additional tenants. They could begin arriving as soon as 2020.

    To help accommodate them, the city is hoping to plow as much as $300 million—raised by selling the air rights to developers to allow them to build bigger properties—into a whole raft of ambitious Grand Central-centric pedestrian improvements.

    Among other things, the New York City Planning Commission, which is overseeing the rezoning plan, is mulling a proposal to turn Vanderbilt Avenue, along the west side of the terminal, into a pedestrian green space similar to what it has done with Broadway in Times Square. A similar treatment could lie ahead for the underutilized roadways on either side of Pershing Square, across from the terminal's main entrance on East 42nd Street.

    Big changes ahead

    Inspired by the rezoning, the Regional Plan Association and Municipal Art Society will jointly float a proposal this spring, when the rezoning plan enters public review, to take a traffic lane on both Madison and Lexington avenues and use the space to widen the cramped sidewalks along both arteries.

    The fate of all these proposals and many that have yet to be enumerated remains to be seen, but what seems clear is that big changes in the streetscape of the area surrounding Grand Central lie ahead.

    "This is midtown's response to the High Line," said Raju Mann, director of planning at the Municipal Art Society. "What distinguishes a city and a neighborhood is not class A buildings ultimately, but what's happening around those buildings."

    Improvements are also in the cards within the station itself. Among them is a planned widening of the staircase near the terminal's Pershing Square entrance that leads down to the 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines, relieving a notorious bottleneck.

    "We could add a mirrored staircase that would roughly double the capacity," said Frank Ruchala, a planner at the Planning Commission.

    The scent of a revitalized Grand Central and its surroundings is already drawing a swarm of investors. Last year, a total of $2.2 billion of commercial property transactions were completed in the neighborhood, a 10% rise over 2011, according to statistics compiled by Cushman & Wakefield. The increase contrasted with that of Manhattan as a whole, which saw a total of $9.7 billion in office sales in 2012, off 25% from the previous year.

    Big sums are also being poured into refurbishing buildings. A few blocks north of Grand Central, for example, SL Green and Vornado are spending $125 million renovating their twin-building property at 280 Park Ave.

    Steve Durels, an executive at SL Green, indicated that the building's location next to northern pedestrian entrances to the terminal's tracks—entry points that will eventually funnel into the LIRR connection—was a large factor in the partnership's decision to undertake such a big investment.

    "There's no doubt that buildings that have proximity to north-end access points and the LIRR connector will be able to use that as a big selling feature," Mr. Durels said.

    To the west, another big local landlord is also upping his bets on Grand Central. Aby Rosen, who owns several office towers in the city, including the Seagram Building and Lever House—the landmarks kitty-corner from each other on Park Avenue and East 53rd Street—recently spent nearly $540 million acquiring two office properties in separate transactions at 285 and 350 Madison Avenue. He is already planning to spend $55 million on a gut renovation of the former.

    Shifting status

    "We always have been into the Grand Central neighborhood, but it has become more essential given the way that transit is so important to a growing number of commuters," Mr. Rosen said.
    Among them are many employees of Guggenheim Partners, an investment firm that inked a 15-year lease last year for nearly 200,000 square feet of office space at 330 Madison Ave. In fact, it was that transaction that helped convince Mr. Rosen that the Grand Central neighborhood's status as a fading star, losing status to newer precincts like Hudson Yards and a revitalized World Trade Center area, was shifting.

    "Guggenheim Partners is a first-class tenant," Mr. Rosen said. "The fact that they chose to come to Madison Avenue shows that that stretch can now compete for the best firms."


    With last year's arrival of Apple to the East Balcony, and this year's planned debut of Shake Shack in the lower dining concourse, Grand Central Terminal has emerged as a retail destination.

    One of the things that Grand Central has going for it is a mix of tenants unlike those anywhere else in Manhattan. Many of the retail spaces in the station are small enough to appeal to a wider variety of boutique-type tenants who could not afford larger spaces on the street, notes Gary Alterman, executive vice president at Robert K. Futterman & Associates. More will come in 2018 with the planned opening the Long Island Rail Road concourse, which will add 22,000 square feet of retailing space.

    “Grand Central is a magnet for the entire area,” Mr. Alterman said.

    In fact, the halo effect has spread to surrounding areas, which offer larger spaces for retailers such as Zara and H&M.
    “Retailers who can't fit into Grand Central—or whose renewals are rejected—probably end up taking space nearby,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing at Douglas Elliman.

    Meanwhile, west of the station, along Fifth Avenue from 42nd to 49th streets, rents have ballooned in the past few years as big-name retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Joe Fresh have set up shop, paying as much as $1,100 per square foot. Nearby Madison Avenue in the East 40s has held steady with such stalwarts as Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart.

  4. #124


    The tracks of their years: Grand Central Terminal's longtimers spill the station's fun & deepest secrets

    As its 100th anniversary nears, loyal workers recall moments of love, laughter and even nudity

    By Jacob E. Osterhout / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 6:00 AM
    Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 6:00 AM

    Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

    Passengers pass though Grand Central Terminal in November.

    MELVIN JOHNSON has worked in Grand Central Terminal for the past 35 years. He’s a customer service representative, making it his business to know yours.
    “This is the greatest place to work in the world,” says the 66-year-old Harlem native. “People take vacations from all over the world just to come here, to Grand Central Terminal, and I get to say hi to them.”
    On Friday, the iconic station turns 100. And while the newly renovated building is as breathtaking as ever, it’s the people who’ve worked there for decades that really bring the station to life.
    Every day 750,000 visitors pass through Grand Central Terminal, making it the largest hub for train traffic in the world. The station first opened its doors on Feb. 2, 1913 and took 10 years and $2 billion to build. In 1994, the MTA commenced a $500 million plan to restore the terminal. There’s currently an $8.2 billion project underway that will build a new terminal under the existing one and herald the arrival of Long Island Rail Road trains.
    Like Johnson, train engineer Michael King, crew scheduling coodinator Gerry Geisler, special events manager Kyle McCarthy and photographer Frank English have spent the last few decades working at the station. They are the keepers of the secrets, the little-known stories and memories that have happened over the years. From supervising movie shoots to making sure the trains are staffed and on schedule, these are the people who work behind the scenes to make it all happen.
    The Daily News caught up with some of Grand Central’s longest-standing employees to see the grandeur through their eyes:
    Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

    Melvin Johnson, customer service rep: 'I'm a terrorist expert, social worker, baby-sitter and doctor.'

    Customer Service Representative
    For Melvin Johnson, Grand Central Terminal is full of love.
    It’s where he met his wife. It’s how he put his daughter through college. And it’s the place where he greets hundreds of lost or confused visitors every day with a smile.
    Johnson has worked as a customer service representative in Grand Central in 1978. Back then, his “office,” as he refers to the main concourse of Grand Central, wasn’t quite as pristine as it is now.
    “When I first started here in the ’70s, this place had a lot of homeless and was very dangerous, and that’s just the way it was,” he says. “This place used to be a hell hole, but I still enjoyed my job.”
    According to Johnson, “I’m a terrorist expert, social worker, baby-sitter and doctor. I’m the eyes and ears of the railroad.”
    And a Casanova. Johnson met his wife, who worked in a nearby office building, on the main concourse in 1976 after being introduced by friends. Six years later, they married. “I owe a lot to Grand Central,” says Johnson. “Even though I grew up in Harlem, I had never come to Grand Central until I needed a job. Now I can’t leave.”
    Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

    Kyle McCarthy, special events manager: 'If film crews want to come back ... they have to listen to me.'

    Special Events Manager
    Kyle McCarthy sees a side of Grand Central that nobody else sees.
    As the MTA special events manager, McCarthy coordinates all the movie, commercial, documentary, music video and photo shoots that take place in Grand Central Terminal. She has helped work on movies like “Radio Days,” “The Freshman,” “Carlito’s Way,” “The Fisher King,” “Unfaithful,” and “Arthur.”
    “We do filming when it doesn’t interfere with our operations and our ability to provide transportation,” says the 52-year-old Woodhaven native. “As long as there is not an official rush hour, you can film, which means lots of nights and weekends.
    McCarthy, whose father worked for the railroads all his life, started working at Grand Central when she was just 24. She began in the commuter relations department “taking more complaints than compliments,” before working her way up to manager of special events.
    Her first movie shoot was a trial by fire.
    “I helped set up Woody Allen’s ‘Radio Days,’” she recalls. “It was supposed to be a 1940s piece. I had them shooting at a train gate. Suddenly, a commuter train pulled in on one of the platforms and unloaded all these modern people in the middle of the 1940s.”
    McCarthy usually wins arguments with the film crews. “If they want to come back, and everybody wants to come back, then they have to listen to me,” she says.
    Standing at the west Oyster Bar ramp, she recalls when the most recent refurbishment was completed.
    “This is the spot that took my breath away,” she says. “This is where I wish my father had stood to see the new Grand Central ... because I think he really would have been impressed.”
    Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

    Michael King, a locomotive engineer: 'I don't go to work. I go to play ... with big trains.'

    Locomotive Engineer
    As a kid, Michael King played with trains. When he grew up, he didn’t stop.
    The 54-year-old Poughkeepsie resident is a fourth-generation locomotive engineer for the Metro-North Railroad, starting the job in 1979.
    “My father was an engineer,” he says. “His father was an engineer, and his father’s father was an engineer. We all worked on trains in the state of New York.”
    The most challenging part of King’s job — which entails starting, stopping and running trains — is navigating the labyrinth of tracks below Grand Central.
    But King’s favorite part of the terminal is above ground. The “whispering wall” near the ramp to the Oyster Bar allows one person to whisper into a wall on one side of a dome, while another can hear it from a wall more than 20 feet away.
    “The sound’s wave will travel right over the dome so that it is like we are talking face to face,” King says. “Before the refurbishment, you couldn’t do this because the wall smelled like urine. But they did a marvelous job of rebuilding the terminal. Thank you, Jackie Kennedy.”
    He takes the same glee in operating trains.
    “I still can’t believe I have this job after 34 years,” he says. “I don’t go to work, I go to play. I play with big trains and when I’m done playing, my mother can't make me pick the tracks up.”
    Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

    Frank English, official photographer: Lucille Ball 'worked with all the railroad people. ... She was so sweet and genuine.'

    Official Photographer
    Frank English has taken more photos in Grand Central than anyone else.
    By his own estimation, the 76-year-old Kips Bay resident has snapped at least 200,000 photos in the iconic terminal — he’s been the official photographer since 1984.
    But Frank’s pictures transcend corporate photography. His photos have been used in multiple books, including the upcoming tome “Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America” by Sam Roberts.
    For English, Grand Central is more than just a train station. It is where he grew up.
    “My father was a partner in an accounting firm that had their offices here,” he says. “When I was a little kid in the Bronx, I would come down to Grand Central and meet my father for lunch. That was an introduction to the railroad for me, not just to the terminal, but to the tracks that came down here. Everything flowed to Grand Central.”
    One of his favorite memories was photographing actress Lucille Ball, when she was filming “Stone Pillow” for CBS.
    “Most of the stars in between shoots go to their trailer, but she didn’t,” he says. “She stayed there and worked with all the railroad people at teaching them games that they didn’t know. She was so sweet and genuine.”
    Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

    Gerry Geisler, assistant director of crew scheduling: 'One time, a woman's dress fell off when she was buying a ticket.'

    Assistant Director of Crew Scheduling
    From the ticket booth to the railyards, Gerry Geisler has seen it all.
    By his count, the 34-year MTA vet has had at least six jobs working for the MTA in and around Grand Central.
    He started in the freight yards, sold tickets and even worked as a janitor before eventually climbing up the ranks to become the assistant director of crew scheduling.
    From his office building high above the main concourse, Geisler basically determines which crews work on which trains. Seems simple enough, until you factor in that more than a thousand trains come and go from Grand Central each day and there are at least a thousand conductors, engineers and crew members he has to properly put on those trains.
    “Basically, you are trying to cover seven-day-a-week service with five-day-a-week assignments and people need to have two days in a row off,” says the 54-year-old Chatham resident. Of course, Geisler can handle it. After all, if he could work the ticket booth in Grand Central in the early ’80s, he can certainly handle a few spreadsheets.
    “The strangest things would happen back then,” he says. “One time, a woman’s dress fell off when she was buying a ticket. She was going to a costume party and was wearing a football jersey and it just fell off. I made sure I gave her the correct change.”
    Beyond the occasional nudity, what Geisler really loves about his job is the sense of history he feels while he’s working in Grand Central.
    “This building basically takes you back to the very beginning of rail transportation in New York City,” he says. “People used to come in by steamship and they would take a hansom cab to Grand Central and then head out to anywhere in the country. Even though we are only a commuter operation now, you still get that sense.”
    Click for video

    Read more:

  5. #125
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    Feb 2008
    New York City


    Happy 100th Birthday Ol' Chap

    If anyone is in the area today, there's a lot going on inside GCT so stop on by

  6. #126


    Set your DVRs/Tivos/Whatevers. Ch 7 is showing a Grand tour of the station including the new/old? tunnels, behind the giant clock, a frosted-glass catwalk behind one of the arched windows, and lots of cool stuff on Saturday at 7pm.

  7. #127
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    10 Fun Grand Central Facts

    by Jessica Dailey

    In conjunction with Grand Central's centennial, two books celebrating the terminal's history were published, bringing to life the train station's past through old newspaper articles, archived photos, and personal accounts. Grand Central: How A Train Station Transformed America is narrative history written by the New York Times correspondant Sam Roberts, while Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark is a coffee table book compiled by the New York Transit Museum and Anthony W. Robins. Both books reveal little-known stories and hidden histories, and we've pulled 10 of the most interesting facts we learned about the terminal.

    Ten fun facts from the books:

    1) There are six secret staircases in the station [How A Train Station Transformed America], but the station was also designed as the first stairless train station in the world. From the New York Tribune, December 1912: "There is a whole story in the ramps, how the terminal engineers, not satisfied with the theoretical calculations, built experimental ramps at various slopes and studied thereon the gait and gasping limit of lean men with heavy suitcases, fat men without other burden than their flesh, women with babies, school children with books, and all other types of travellers. Upon the data thus obtained, they were able to construct ramps truly scientific and seductively sloped." [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    2) In the early days of Grand Central, before electric trains, the smoke and ash from steam engines caused safety problems in the tunnels. So to keep the smoke out of the tunnels, railroad engineers created the "flying switch" in which the locomotive would be detached from the train cars at the very last second and deflected onto another track. The cars would fly into the station, unaided and the brake operator would stop them. "Amazingly, this procedure caused no incidents." [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    [Photo by Harris Garber/Curbed Flickr pool]

    3) The terminal's seventh floor was home to an art school opened in 1924 (run by the sixth floor's John Singer Sargent-founded Grand Central Art Galleries). [How A Train Station Transformed America] One of the school's art instructors, the artist Ezra Winter, actually lived in a studio above the terminal. His home was so high up that "the terminal's electricians had to pass through it to reach the space above the concourse ceiling" in order to service the lights. [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    4) CBS broadcast from the station until 1964, and sometimes the trains' vibrations led to "fuzzy images" on TV. [How A Train Station Transformed America] CBS set up a giant monitor in the main concourse to broadcast major news events to New Yorkers. The studio saw the broadcasting of the soap operas "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light," and coverage of the 1960 Olympics. CBS Evening News and The Morning Show also began here. [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    5) After CBS left, the space was turned into tennis courts by the Vanderbilt Tennis Club. By 1980, they were operated by none other than Donald Trump, who let famous people like Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall come play. In 2009, the space was converted into a break room for train conductors, but now they are once again tennis courts operating under the original name. [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    [The main concourse, circa 1935-1941]

    6) "A silver vase found on a seat wins the prize for weirdest abandoned item, hands down. Terminal officials say that it turned out to have been left deliberately by a widow whose husband claimed a few too many times that he came home late because he had been stuck on a train. The vase contained his ashes, and his wife figured leaving them on a train indefinitely was just retribution." [How A Train Station Transformed America]

    7) In the early 1900s, Grand Central had Red Caps and Green Caps. Red Caps served as porters and baggage handlers, while Green Caps were essentially secretaries for travelers. From the New York Times, June 1922: "Should a commuter or a traveler from out of town desire to send a message to a friend or business acquaintance, the Green Cap will see that it is telephone for a small fee. Should the commuter want his wife notified that he will be home earlier or later than usual, the Green Cap will oblige. In fact, for a dime, the Green Cap will telephone that a commuting husband will not be home at all." [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    8) When the ceiling was cleaned during the 1990s restoration of the terminal, what was thought to be soot and fumes turned out to be tar from passengers' cigarettes. [How A Train Station Transformed America]

    [Grand Central's 42nd Street facade, photo by 1982Chris911/Curbed Flickr pool]

    9) Starting on Christmas Day in 1928, an organist named Mary Lee Read began playing concerts in the main concourse throughout the day. According to a New York Times article from March 1937, "Officials of the New York Central Railroad have found that organ music acts as a sedative for nerves jangled by the process of catching a train. 'The effect on fractious nerves,' they said, 'is apparent. Frowns fade, tension relaxes, and all but the most case-hardened commuters step blithely to their trains.'" Read played the organ in Grand Central during the Christmas season for 29 years. [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    10) The carved sculpture on the terminal's 42nd Street facade was made by the French sculptor Jules-Felix Coutan, who never stepped foot in America. The sculpture was carved in a studio on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island), and it took five months. It stands 66 feet wide, 48 feet tall, and it weighs 1,500 tons. [100 Years of a New York Landmark]

    Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America [Amazon]
    Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark [MTA]

  8. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    1) There are six secret staircases in the station

  9. #129


    well if you knew that they wouldn't be secret anymore

  10. #130


    From what I understand, there is a secret one that leads to the Clock Tower - Information booth. I for one can't not visualize it, but I am made to understand taht there is a brass cylander in the center of the information booth that conceals it.

    Another, is located at "M-42", a secret basement housing electrical generators. Apparently this was known to be targeted by Hitler during WW II

    A third one is used to service the clock in the clock tower. It is serviced everyday.

  11. #131


    brass cylander in the center of the information booth that conceals it.
    There is. It's how the workers enter and exit the booth.

    Cool facts. They should start doing number 9 again.

  12. #132


    Marilyn, 1955.

  13. #133

  14. #134
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    better than the historically most famous incident at Gare Montparnasse in 1895

  15. #135


    Gare Monteparnasse, another crime like Penn Station. Luckily Paris still had a bucket load of fine stations to enjoy.

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