Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial featuring Fala, via Wikimedia
While the subway can always be a bit creepy, there might be more behind those spooky feelings when standing underground than just frighteningly bad service. Allegedly, a ghost haunts Track 61, the secret track hidden under Grand Central Terminal, according to Phil Schoenberg, a New York City historian and founder of Ghost Walks NYC. And not just any ghost, but the spirit of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, who apparently roams the shuttered train track. The president famously used the private track as a way to escape the public eye, keeping his paralysis a secret (h/t WNYC).
Image © Emily Nonko for 6sqft
FDR traveled along Track 61, which took passengers from Grand Central to the Waldorf Astoria covertly, in a custom-made vehicle. The five-car train had armored plating and bullet-proof glass on the outside and cream-colored wood inside. The president also traveled with his Pierce-Arrow limousine in tow and both FDR and his limo would ride the elevator up to the hotel’s garage. In addition to his aides, his beloved Fala would accompany him underground, and nearly everywhere the president traveled.
Fala photographing White House photographers (1941) courtesy of the National Archives
First given to the president as a Christmas present, Fala became part of FDR’s public image and the media covered the dog’s antics frequently. The small, black Scottish Terrier was spotted in the Oval Office, on official state visits and always slept at the foot of FDR’s bed. Also, the president was apparently the only one with the authority to feed him.
Attached as he was, FDR insisted Fala ride with him on his custom-designed armored train under Grand Central. According to Schoenberg, the ghostly presence of Fala can be felt by visitors today. “Apparently he still appears in Grand Central, still looking for his master,”Schoenberg told WNYC about Fala. “He’s been spotted late at night by various people who are in the station to fix things or clean up.”
Fala and FDR at the White House, via Wikimedia
Fala, who survived FDR by seven years, continues to be one of the most famous first dogs ever. At the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., a statue of the dog sits next to the president, the only presidential pet to be honored as such. In addition to the ghost of Fala, straphangers have apparently seen phantoms at the Astor Place train station and the now-closed City Hall station.
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