Image © Emily Nonko for 6sqft
The iconic Grand Central Terminal is a building with more than a few secrets. Constructed in 1913 with the wealth of the Vanderbilt family, there was a lavish private office (now known as The Campbell Apartment), glass catwalks, a hidden spiral staircase, and even artists’ studios on an upper floor. One of the most infamous secrets of the terminal, however, was a secret track used specifically for a president to access one of the most famous hotels in the world. Known as Track 61, it leads to a special platform that was never used or intended to be used in regular passenger service—it just happened to be in the right place.
Keep reading about Grand Central’s secret track
The holidays turn New York City into a bright, illuminated wonderland that even the biggest Scrooge among us can enjoy. While there are plenty of events to choose from, like alternative holiday markets and glittering art installations, many of these activities can be jampacked with tourists. For those looking to learn more about their own holiday traditions, or understand others, there are lots of low-key, educational events perfect for history buffs looking for a quieter holiday experience. Ahead, check out 6sqft’s guide to the best holiday events in New York City that come with a historical twist, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
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The Times Square shuttle platform, via Wikimedia
At the platform of the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle, a train track is hidden in plain sight. At both ends of the two-station line, tracks are numbered 1, 3 and 4, with no Track 2 to be found. As the New York Times explained, Track 2 once ran in its appropriate spot, between Tracks 1 and 3, but was taken out of operation nearly 100 years ago. After an attempt to expand the original 1904 line turned to major confusion for commuters, transit officials covered Track 2 with wooden flooring to make it easier for New Yorkers to walk to the new tracks.
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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).
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Grand Central Terminal, photo via NYC & Company
At Grand Central Terminal, it’s in with the new, out with the old. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will replace stores that have served the busy terminal’s commuters for over two decades–Junior’s, Two Boots Pizza, Grand Harvest Wines–with more upscale shops. As the New York Post reported, new stores include Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, run by Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, Art Smith, and Tartinery, an open-face sandwich vendor. The restaurant refashioning process is expected to run through 2018.
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While visiting the major, most popular attractions of New York City can be fun, it can also be stressful, overwhelming and full of selfie-taking tourists. However, the great thing about the Big Apple is that plenty of other attractions exist that are far less known or even hidden in plain sight. To go beyond the tourist-filled sites and tour the city like you’re seeing it for the very first time, check out 6sqft’s list ahead of the 20 best underground, secret spots in New York City.
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Ahead of repair work set to begin at Penn Station next week, Amtrak said it will reroute some trains each weekday to Grand Central Terminal. For the first time since 1991, passengers will use the iconic Beaux-Arts terminal to reach destinations along the Hudson River Valley, like Rhinecliff, Hudson and Albany. As the New York Times reported, Amtrak will reroute six of their Empire Service trains to Grand Central instead of Penn Station from July 10 to Sept. 1.
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Grand Central Terminal Lobby via Wikipedia
With major infrastructure repairs taking place at Penn Station this summer, state officials have suggested rerouting some Amtrak trains to Grand Central Terminal to ease train congestion. While no plans have been finalized, and it’s still unclear how long the switch would take to begin, crews are already training for the new path down Park Avenue into Grand Central, as Politico NY reports. Swapping stations, however, could cause temporary problems at the 42nd Street transit hub, which currently serves 750,000 passengers per day on four commuter lines via Metro-North.
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Image of The Campbell Bar via Facebook.
Though we’re getting used to bidding farewell to our favorite vestiges of old New York, the May 17 reopening of historic and elegant cocktail establishment Campbell Apartment brings a rare reprieve to that familiar scenario, as The New York Times reports. Shuttered in July, the iconic lounge tucked away deep within Grand Central Terminal will reopen as an expanded version of the original. Both its slightly hidden nature and the establishment’s dress code will not be returning in its newest incarnation. The new, easier-to-find bar will be run by the Gerber Group, who says they want the bar to be less stuffy, hopefully without losing any of the historic and genteel appeal that made it a favorite grown-up rendezvous spot and a great way to impress a date.
Find out the story behind this unique NYC space
Perhaps the most detested Midtown skyscraper by the public, this huge tower has nevertheless always been a popular building with tenants for its prime location over Grand Central Terminal and its many views up and down Park Avenue. It is also one of the world’s finest examples of the Brutalist architecture, commendable for its robust form and excellent public spaces, as well as its excellent integration into the elevated arterial roads around it.
However, there is no argument that it is also immensely bulky with a monstrous height. As shown in the photograph ahead, to its north, the building completely overshadows the Helmsley Building, an iconic product of Warren & Wetmore’s Terminal City complex. The pyramid-topped Helmsley Building once straddled the avenue with remarkable grace, and as one of the city’s very rare, “drive-through” buildings, it was the great centerpiece of Park Avenue. But by shrouding such a masterpiece in its shadows, the Pan Am Building (today the MetLife building) desecrated a major icon that will unfortunately never recover from such a contemptible slight on a prominent site.
Read more about the significance of this building here