Opened on February 2, 1913, the present Grand Central terminal is considered one of the finest railroad terminals in the country. Grand Central Station offered amenities since it first opened including an oak-floored waiting room for women, attended to by maids; a shoeshine room, also for women; a room with telephones; a salon with gender-separated portions; a dressing room, and a barbershop for men, containing a public portion with barbers from many cultures.
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Brochures advertised the new Grand Central Terminal as a tourist-friendly space, an idea that continues through today. The terminal is a popular tourist destination for both its elaborate architecture (including a sculpture of the Roman god Mercury) and grand concourses that are home to ticket booths, shops, and dining spots.
The oldest one of these dining spots is the Oyster Bar. Particularly noteworthy when one first enters is the terminal’s exquisite astronomical ceiling. It contains depictions of various constellations, but many of them are reversed. This anomaly is rumored to be a “God’s-eye” view of the solar system.
Despite its attractiveness, the terminal was actually scheduled for demolition in the 1960s. This was due to the impending bankruptcy of its owners. Fortunately for New York, former First Lady Jackie Onassis famously opposed the plan. Ultimately, Grand Central Station was saved when it was declared a city landmark.
Today, Grand Central Station’s main information booth is in the center of the Main Concourse surrounded by the original artifacts and booths of the original train station. It is easily spotted by the famous four-faced brass clock on top.
Many subway lines come in and out of the terminal making city access quite easy. Next to the Concourse, one will find Vanderbilt Hall, named for the family that funded Grand Central Terminal’s construction. This space hosts a variety of events, public and private. Tourists are allowed access to the many historic spaces via guided and self guided walking tours available