Grand Central Station is one of New York City’s most recognizable and most visited landmarks. However, most people who visit only get to see a small portion of what makes up this extensive terminal. With 44 platforms, over 60 tracks and a basement spanning 49 acres, there is more to Grand Central Station than meets the eye.
Grand Central is the hub of New York City, serving over a million passengers daily and attracting millions more tourists annually. Many know stories about Grand Central—how its ceiling mural was painted upside down, how a small hole was made in the ceiling to fit a rocket and how one brick was left blackened during its restoration—but Grand Central Station has many more untold stories.
A section of Grand Central that you cannot find on any map or blueprint is the power station that keeps the whole thing running. Known as M42, the location of this ten-story deep facility is of the utmost secrecy and for good reason. During World War II, this power station was a key target for Hitler, who hoped to disrupt the movement of troops and weapons. The power station is one of the least accessible parts of Grand Central Station and is still one of the more closely guarded areas in the terminal.
One of Grand Central Station’s most talked-about secrets is the hidden train line located underneath the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Initially built to transport freight, this now-abandoned train line is thought to have been used to transport Franklin Delano Roosevelt in and out of the city during his presidency to hide his polio from the public. After his death, the track was used for various other presidents and was the site of a famous party thrown by Andy Warhol in the ’50s. The track is even referenced in the most recent Amazing Spiderman as the location of Peter Parker’s father’s secret hideout. The history of the track is hazy at best, and it is rumored that the track is kept running to this day when the current president is in town, just in case he needs a quick, safe getaway. On your next trip from Grand Central to Fordham on the Metro North, look to your right as you leave the station and you just may catch a glimpse of the famous track 61.
One of the less elusive secrets of Grand Central is the Vanderbilt Tennis Court, located on the fourth floor of the terminal. The court is ridiculously expensive to book, with reservations required more than a week in advance, but this unusual tennis court is an enigma simply because of its location.
While you cannot exactly explore these hidden and secret areas, there is another side to Grand Central that is much more accessible. The terminal is full of delicious places to eat, explore and shop, including the Oyster Bar, an annex of the New York Transit Museum and the possibly-haunted Campbell Apartments.
Grand Central station is beautiful, historically rich and an adventure waiting for any who are willing to explore its depths.