Grand Central Station in the early 1900s
Historic photos of the original Penn Station are almost as common as images of the current site, since its demolition in 1963 is often credited with spearheading the modern preservation movement (and because its grandeur is a startling reminder of how loathed the current station is). Conversely, Grand Central is typically celebrated as a preservation victory. In 1978, the courts ruled in favor of the Landmarks Preservation Commission when Penn Central Railroad sued them to build a huge tower atop the terminal and demolish one of its facades. But believe it or not, the 1913 Beaux-Arts building was not the first Grand Central, and photos of these grand earlier structures are rarely shared.
See them here and get the full history
Grand Central Terminal has a great deal of hidden history and underground secrets, but this powerful image of German helmets taken in 1918 might not be on everyone’s radar. The photo documents a collection of captured WWI helmets from German soldiers stacked in a pyramid shape on Victory Way. The politically potent tower was in view of the employees from New York Central Terminal with the famous train station visible in the background.
More on this alarming photo
The year was 1956. Plans to demolish Penn Station hadn’t yet been set into motion. But plans to demolish NYC’s other famous train station were well underway.
When Grand Central was constructed in 1913, its architects envisioned that it would one day be the base of a skyscraper, but in the early 1950s, developers hoped to demolish the terminal altogether to make way for what would have been the tallest building in the world. Famed architect I.M Pei was tasked with the job, and he designed an 80-story, hourglass-shaped, futuristic tower known as the Hyperboloid.
More details and a video on the never-built project
, Fri, September 25, 2015
“In the past, if you’d stepped into this elevator by mistake, you faced being shot at the other end, in case you told anyone what you saw,” says the narrator of this video from the Science Channel. And this is, essentially, what happened to two German spies when they tried to attack this hidden power substation below Grand Central.
But let’s back up. When Grand Central was built in 1913, part of the plan was to add a top-secret power substation. After tunneling down through ten stories of solid bedrock, engineers blasted and carved out a top-secret chamber known as M42, almost as wide as the terminal itself and covering 22,000 square feet. Here, nine rotary converters each weighing 15 tons and reaching heights of 20 feet, transferred 11,000 volts of alternating current to power the trains above. In 1941, when America joined WWII, the secrecy paid off.
Find out how Adolf Hitler almost destroyed the substation
- There’s a $10 million precious stone hidden in plain sight at Grand Central. [Business Insider]
- Grand Central also used to have its own movie theater. [Gothamist]
- Lower East Side History Month kicks off in May. Here’s a list of all the events, including exhibits, walking tours, film screenings, and more. [The Lo-Down]
- If you’re looking to live out a James Bond fantasy, visit this West Village spy shop. [Untapped]
- Experts say more coyotes will come to NYC. In the past three weeks three have been spotted around the city. [DNAinfo]
- According to data from the New York City Department of Transportation, the number of cyclists in NYC has tripled over the past 10 years. [Tree Hugger]
Images: Orchard and Rivington Streets on the Lower East Side (L); NYC cyclist (R)
Recently at the Municipal Art Society’s 2014 Summit for NYC, James von Klemperer, FAIA , a principal at Kohn Pederson Fox & Associates, briefed the audience with new details on the architecture firm’s upcoming supertall project known as One Vanderbilt.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the 68-story, 1,514-foot zigzag building is expected to become the tallest office tower in Midtown and third tallest in the city behind One World Trade Center (1,776 feet to spire tip) and Extell’s Nordstrom Tower (1,775 feet to spire tip).
Check out all the new images of the supertall tower here
New York City’s most taxed line is about to get a sizable cash infusion. Of the $210 million that developer SL Green Realty has budgeted for improving Grand Central’s subway station for the green light to construct a 65-story office tower next door, more than 75% will go toward the Lexington Avenue line, Crain’s reports. Yesterday, a 63-page study was delivered to Manhattan’s Community Board 5 and to transportation advocates who have called for Midtown East’s rezoning to include improvements to transportation infrastructure to meet current demand as well as the influx of nearly 16,000 workers as new lines are drawn. So where exactly will the money go?
Where will the money will go?
- Did you know the stars on the ceiling of Grand Central are painted in 23-karat gold? This and ten other secrets of the train terminal are on Thrillist.
- Architects have created a 3D-printed column that can withstand earthquakes. Details on Wired.
- Curbed takes a tour of the building that changed New York City’s zoning laws–the Equitable Building.
- The Yozakura porcelain sake set is inspired by Japanese cherry blossoms. Like the design? You can get it started through Kickstarter.
- Architizer rounds up ten signs of Harlem’s architectural renaissance.
- Napping just got a whole lot better. The HoodiePillow combines a plush pillow with the coziness of a warm hood. There’s even a pocket for your iPhone, reports Dornob.
Images: Grand Central (L); Hoodie Pillow (R)
, Fri, September 19, 2014
We’ve been keeping a close eye on One Vanderbilt, SL Green‘s new 65-story office tower planned for the entire block west of Grand Central and north of East 42nd Street. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, it will be the second-tallest building in the city when completed. Now, Yimby has hot-off-the-press skyline views of One Vanderbilt from KPF, and the newest NYC supertall certainly stands out amongst the nearby Empire State Building and Chrysler Building.