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Grand Central Terminal

Fodorite Reviews

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Grand Central Terminal Review

Grand Central is not only the world's largest (76 acres) and the nation's busiest (nearly 700,000 commuters and subway riders use it daily) railway station, but also one of the world's most magnificent, majestic public spaces. Past the glimmering chandeliers of the waiting room is the jaw-dropping main concourse, 200 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 120 feet (roughly 12 stories) high, modeled after an ancient Roman public bath. In spite of it being completely cavernous, Grand Central manages to evoke a certain sense of warmth rarely found in buildings its size. Overhead, a twinkling fiber-optic map of the constellations covers the robin's egg–blue ceiling. To admire it all with some sense of peace, avoid visiting at rush hour.

To escape the crowds, head up one of the sweeping staircases at either end, where three upscale restaurants occupy the balcony space. Any would make an enjoyable perch from which to survey the concourse, but for a real taste of the station's early years, head beyond the western staircase to the Campbell Apartment, a clubby cocktail lounge housed in the restored private offices and salon of 1920s tycoon John W. Campbell. Located around and below the main concourse are fantastic shops and eateries (this is, of course, home to the eponymous Grand Central Oyster Bar), making this one of the best—if somewhat labyrinthine—"malls" in the city.

To best admire Grand Central's exquisite Beaux-Arts architecture, start from its ornate south face on East 42nd Street, modeled after a Roman triumphal arch. Crowning the facade's Corinthian columns and 75-foot-high arched windows, a graceful clock keeps time for hurried commuters. In the central window stands an 1869 bronze statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the station to house his railroad empire. Also noteworthy is the 1½-ton, cast-iron bald eagle displaying its 13-foot wingspan atop a ball near the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

Grand Central still functions primarily as a railroad station, and might resemble its artless cross-town counterpart, Penn Station, were it not for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's 1975 public information campaign to save it as a landmark. Underground, more than 60 ingeniously integrated railroad tracks carry trains upstate and to Connecticut via Metro-North Commuter Rail. The subway connects here as well. The Municipal Art Society (212/935–3960 www.mas.org/tours) leads an official daily walking tour to explore the 100-year-old terminal's architecture, history, and hidden secrets. Tours begin in the main concourse at 12:30 and last for 75 minutes. Tickets ($20) can be purchased in advance online (docentour.com/gct) or from the ticket booth in the main concourse.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Main entrance, E. 42nd St. at Park Ave., Midtown East, New York, NY, 10017 | Map It
  • Phone: 212/935–3960
  • Website:
  • Subway: 4, 5, 6, 7, S to 42nd St./Grand Central
  • Location: Midtown East
Updated: 03-06-2014

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
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    Awesome!

    Without a doubt one of the coolest things i saw in NYC. Do not miss it, it's free to go in and look at the great architecture and ceiling...

    by spaniard, 5/15/07
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    Fantastic Way to Explore NYC

    We have traveled all over the world and love the subway / metro for exploring!

    by YankeesFan, 7/17/08
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    Excellent

    Another of New York's architectural musts, a gorgeous building inside and out. Often crowded, as it's a major working transportation hub, but don't let that deter you.

    by bachslunch, 12/14/08
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    Grand Central Terminal Review

    There is a lot more in this train station - from special events to stores to the upscale food market upstairs. There are also dining options downstairs as well as chairs and table to take a break. The transit museum also has a good shop there for some unique gifts for friends & family back home.

    by AListNYC, 2/10/10
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    Grand Central Terminal Review

    While visiting New York City my family and I stopped into Grand Central to shop and have some lunch. We decided to try the Audio Tour and was blown away at how much we learned. Even the kids did'nt mind learning while on vacation. The audio tour was very well done, an easy to use device and easy to follow map made this a wonderful experience for all of us. If you ever wanted to learn about this beautiful building, try the audio tour

    by misstick23, 3/18/11
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    Grand Central Terminal Review

    As a lifelong New Yorker I have passed through Grand Central hundreds of times. One day, while waiting for friends to arrive from Connecticut I decided to kill some time by taking the audio tour. I was shocked at what I learned, I figured I knew everything there was to know about Grand Central, I was so wrong. Filled with interesting information and secrets I would recommend the audio tour to visitors and New Yorkers.

    by skiguy23, 1/13/12

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