100 Facts For Grand Central Station's 100th Birthday


The Bizarre:

51. A wealthy 1920s businessman named John W. Campbell retained a private office suite in the station which is now known as the Campbell Apartment. Before he died in 1957, he was known for throwing lavish parties there, assisted by Stackhouse, his butler.

52. Since Campbell's death, the space has served as a signalman's office, a police armory, and a jail; it has lately been converted into a cocktail bar.

53. According to this Spider Man fan-fiction writer, the station has, "the marble floor of what looked like an old stone palace."
 
54. No matter how many times he tries, the saxophone player on the 7 train platform will never make it all the way through the intro of Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso." He will, however, always try again.

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‪55. This awesome-sounding video called "Nude in Grand Central Station" has been pulled from YouTube for violating its policy, but it lets us know that station nudity is a thing to look out for. You can read about the woman behind the stunt here.

56. Time reports, "Nine stories below the lowest floor sits a bunker known as M-42. It's rumored that during World War II, the bunker had guards with shoot-to-kill orders, for fear of sabotage while the station's trains were being used to ferry troops into and out of New York."

57. The bunker isn't the only secret area in the station. Track 61, which is not mentioned on any train map, was built for rich passengers who travelled in their own private trains. An elevator runs straight from the track to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

58. President Roosevelt frequently arrived on Track 61 as its secrecy helped him conceal his polio from the public.

59. Singer and bassist Larry Graham of the funk act Graham Central Station is the guy who converted Prince to becoming a Jehovah's Witness. Although Prince wasn't actually baptized by the Graham Central Station guys in Grand Central station, it's fun to imagine, no?

60. The Apple store in the main concourse is -- at 23,000 square feet -- one of the largest in the world.

61. On September 11, 1976, a bomb was hidden inside the terminal by a group of Croatian nationalists. Although they revealed the bomb's location, authorities did not disarm it properly. The resulting explosion killed a member of the NYPD's bomb squad and wounded more than 30 people.

The Olden Days:

62. The original train station on the site of Grand Central, called the Grand Central Depot, was the brainchild of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

63. Vanderbilt built the depot in 1869.

64. The name came from one of the railroads that ran through it, the New York Central.

65. Being a Vanderbilt, he wanted to impress people with the design. As the Real Estate Record and Builder's Guide put it in 1869, "People who come to New York should enter a palace on the end of their ride, and not a shed."

66. The Times immortalized him hilariously on September 2, 1869, when a gigantic statue of Vanderbilt was erected in the station: "Whether we consider him as the great operator and financier or as the steamship Commodore and railway King, or as the man who gets married after the age appointed for men to die, or as the man who is the subject of a statue which, taken all in all, is without a parallel in this or any other country, we always find him the man of boldness, originality, and the most striking popular effects."

67. Then the Depot expanded in 1885. Then it was forced to renovate in 1902, after a deadly accident prompted legislators to demand the railroads abandon steam for electric power.

68. Rather than try to fix the old station, it was decided a new one would be build instead. The new station would become the Grand Central we know today.

69. During the entire demolition and rebuilding, train service never stopped. Said Town & Country, "It does not seem as though the completed structure itself can be half as impressive as this remarkable engineering feat of removing old improvements and installing an entire new terminal system without ever altering a train schedule."

70. When the original depot was built, its location marked the upper edge of the city and its train tracks sprawled for blocks. By the time it was torn down in the early 1900s, Manhattan had grown uptown, and the tracks were forced to move underground to clear the way for real estate.

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