Grand Central Terminal is one of the most iconic NYC landmarks. Gossip Girl, Madagascar, Superman, and North by Northwest are just a handful of movies that have used Grand Central Terminal as an NYC filming location. Every single day, over 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal, making it one of the most visited destinations in New York City. It has stood steady in the heart of New York City for over a hundred years, and finally, on January 25, 2023, a shiny new section of Grand Central Terminal was unveiled. New Yorkers are over the moon with excitement.
AN HISTORIC PAST
Grand Central Terminal first opened on February 2, 1913, and the majestic station’s soaring Beaux-Arts architecture draws in millions of visitors from across the world. Commuters marvel at the zodiac ceiling above the Main Concourse. Children delight at the echoes in the Whispering Gallery. Locals love Grand Central Terminal’s secret speakeasy called the Campbell Apartment. Commuters scurry to and from the 44 historic platforms spanning two bustling levels of Grand Central Terminal.
Despite Grand Central Terminal’s iconic features, so beloved by New Yorkers today, there was a time when its entire future was in jeopardy. In the 1970’s, the Midtown area surrounding Grand Central Terminal grew increasingly dilapidated. Grand Central Terminal itself was becoming a bit passé and forgotten, as the Jet Age dominated life and travel. The beautiful, starry ceiling was by then tar and nicotine stained from ceaseless cigarette smoke. The majestic marble walls were covered in giant advertisements for Kodak and Westclox. Plans were in the works to demolish Grand Central Terminal and erect a skyscraper to replace it.
It was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who helped rescue Grand Central Terminal from the fate of destruction. She teamed up with an architect named Philip Johnson to create the Committee to Save Grand Central Station. Philip Johnson was quoted in the New York Times saying, “Europe has its cathedrals, and we have Grand Central Station. Europe wouldn’t put a tower on a cathedral.” In 1978, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld Grand Central Terminal’s landmark statute, ensuring future generations could bask in its Beaux-Arts beauty.
GRAND CENTRAL TODAY
After receiving landmark status, Grand Central Terminal got a bit of a facelift. The zodiac ceiling in the Main Concourse was cleaned, the advertisements came down, and a $12 million repair program was put into place to stop future deterioration.
The 44 stations belong to Metro-North, allowing commuters to easily travel to and from the New York suburbs to the Big Apple. As commuters pass through Grand Central Terminal they are treated to a dining concourse and shopping center. Grand Central Terminal is an uplifting public space, drawing in New Yorkers, tourists, and commuters alike. Many will stop by the Grand Central Oyster Bar for fresh seafood. Their menu carries 30 varieties of oysters, 25 types of fish, heart-warming soups and chowders, and their world-famous pan roast.
Sports are played in Grand Central Terminal as well! Most guests are surprised to learn that Grand Central Terminal also hosts tennis courts! The courts are open to the public and anyone can play. It is one of Grand Central Terminal’s favorite hidden gems.
Grand Central Terminal truly has something for everyone. It’s hard to imagine anything is left to make the terminal even more spectacular.
GRAND CENTRAL MADISON
On January 25, 2023, Grand Central Terminal opened up a brand new space. Until now, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) ran in and out of Penn Station, bypassing Grand Central Terminal.
The very first talk of bringing LIRR trains to the East Side of Manhattan can be traced back as far as 1963. In 1990, a study was done showing the need for this station. It showed that more than half of LIRR commuters worked closer to Grand Central Terminal than Penn Station.
Plans were put into place to open an LIRR station in Grand Central by 2011. The hopes were that the Grand Central Terminal stop would ease congestion in the already overly-crowded Penn Station, as well as lessen commute times for those traveling to the East Side of Manhattan instead of the West. This would save commuters as much as 40 minutes a day on their journeys.
Construction on the LIRR segment of Grand Central Terminal began in 2001. 2011 came and went, and the LIRR still lacked a stop at Grand Central Terminal. The expenses of the new Grand Central Terminal project ballooned. In the end, it cost upwards of $12 billion. 15 years after the initial plans were set into motion, following a series of frustrating setbacks and delays, the LIRR finally made its first stop in Grand Central Terminal on January 25, 2023.
The scale of the project is nothing short of impressive. Building an LIRR underneath the landmarked Grand Central Terminal was a behemoth undertaking. The station is called Grand Central Madison and is built 17 stories below street level! To get to the LIRR at Grand Central Madison, riders will travel down the longest escalator in New York City! It only takes one minute and 38 seconds to ride down this escalator, but every commuter knows every minute counts. If traveling via Grand Central Madison, leave a little extra wiggle room in your schedule.
For now, there’s only one train route to Grand Central Madison. The train route runs from Jamaica, Queens to Grand Central Madison. The trip from Jamaica, Queens to Grand Central Madison takes just over 20 minutes. Commuters taking the route from Jamaica, Queens to Grand Central Madison will be a part of history, over four decades in the making.