The World Leader in
International Education

The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First
Menu

10 things we bet you didn’t know about Grand Central

Do you think train stations are boring? Think again. Grand Central Terminal in New York City is so much more than a train station, and it has a tennis court, gold chandeliers and a sky full of stars to prove it.

1. No trains pass through

The Grand Central Depot was built in 1871, becoming Grand Central Station soon after. In 1913, 11 years New York City banned all steam locomotives and switched to electrified trains, the station was reopened and renamed to Grand Central Terminal. As the name implies, it’s the final station and no trains actually pass through.

2. But more than 750,000 people do

Over 750,000 people go through the terminal every single day. During the holidays, this number usually goes up to over 1,000,000. Passengers are 55 percent male and 45 percent female and have a median age of 41. A whopping 93 percent of them are college graduates. On average, 7,500 people pass the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Ave every hour, making it one of the busiest intersections in all of New York City. In addition to all the commuters, 21.6 million out-of-town tourists visit Grand Central Terminal every year.

3. It’s the largest train station in the world

Grand Central Terminal is spread over 49 acres, has 44 platforms and 67 tracks on two levels. It is the world’s largest train station by number of platforms and area occupied.

4. It has a whispering gallery

On the Dining Concourse, near the famous Oyster Bar, you can find the iconic whispering gallery: The arched entryway lets you whisper sweet nothings into one corner and whoever stands on the opposite corner can hear everything loud and clear.

5. The ceiling’s upside down

The ceiling of the Main Concourse showcases a beautiful astrological mural of the Mediterranean winter sky, complete with 2500 stars. However, most of the painting is actually upside down, and it doesn’t depict the sky as we see it when looking up. Instead, it shows it – like it was tradition in Medieval times – from God’s point of view. The mishap can be blamed on mixed-up sketches and was noted shortly after the terminal opened, but the mural was never corrected.

6. It sports 10 fancy chandeliers

The 10 chandeliers in Grand Central Terminal’s Main Lobby are decorated with gold and each holds 110 light bulbs. (Fancy!)

7. It’s filled with acorns and oak leaves

Throughout Grand Central Terminal, you will find acorns and oak leaf clusters on top of clocks, carved in stone and engraved in light fixtures. The acorn is the symbol of the Vanderbilt family who built Grand Central Depot – it was the largest building in NYC at the time and the perfect monument to symbolize the Vanderbilts’ power.

8. The clocks are valuable with a big ‘V’

Outside of the building, overlooking 42nd Street, is the world’s largest Tiffany glass clock, measuring 13 feet in diameter. Inside the Main Concourse, right by the iconic information booth, is another famous timepiece: Its four clock faces are made from opal and – according to Sotheby’s and Christie’s – worth more than $10 million. Last but not least, all clocks (and therefore departure schedules) in Grand Central Terminal are fast by exactly one minute, giving all passengers 60 extra seconds to get to their train.

9. It has the best lost-and-found in the US

The New York City Transit’s lost-and-found office at Grand Central Terminal collects and catalogs over 50,000 items every year and returns about 60 percent of them, making it the most successful lost-and-found in the US. They mainly get wallets, glasses or phones, but they’ve also received more unusual items like a pet bunny rabbit, a prosthetic leg, a car bumper and a tuba.

10. And a tennis court (of course!)

At Grand Central Terminal, you can also play a game of tennis while waiting for your train. The Vanderbilt Tennis Club is tucked away on the fourth floor and is open to the public – or whoever is willing to pay between $90 – $260 an hour, depending on the time of day and the day of the week.

Learn English with us in New YorkLearn More

Share this article

Latest articles from Travel