If you happened to be in Grand Central Terminal last week, and somehow spotted me in the crowd, you may have wondered why I was dressed like a cat burglar. No, I was not masterminding a plot to steal a jewel in the station that is worth $10-20 million (more on that later.) Actually, I traded in my little black dress for a few hours when I was invited to join a behind-the-scenes and truly underground tour of NYC's number 2 tourist attraction.
Led by the exuberant Dan Brucker, Manager of Grand Central Terminal Tours, this was no regular tour. From venturing WAY down to the sub-basement (the deepest in NYC, soldiers were stationed there during WWII) to shimmying up a ladder to the clock tower for a priceless view, the tour was truly an intimate look at a building that so many of us take for granted.
Built in 1913, Grand Central is the world's largest train terminal and has accumulated many secrets in almost 100 years. Like most juicy secrets, with just a little patience and snooping around, GCT's confidences will reveal themselves to you. The tour that I took is not available to the general public but there is so much rich history accessible to all who pass through.
Visit the Grand Central Terminal website for details on taking a self-guided walking tour or an audio tour. You'll learn why the beautiful ceiling above the Main Concourse is a masterpiece full of mistakes, why a motif of acorns and oak leaves repeats itself throughout the building, and discover a quiet corner that will transmit your whispered secrets to a friend standing in the opposite corner 30 feet away. Here are a few photos to inspire you.
Like many New Yorkers, Grand Central Terminal's information booth smack in the middle of the Main Concourse is one of my favorite rendezvous points. Next time you are impatiently waiting by the booth, pay attention to the four-faced clock that adorns it like an elegant wedding cake topper. Not only is the time accurate, this opal faced beauty has an appraised value of $10-20 million! I snapped this photo from the catwalk high above the Main Concourse.
Approaching Grand Central Terminal from Park Avenue, an impressive clock can be seen at the top center of the edifice. Darlings, this grand clock is the world's largest example of Tiffany glass. After crawling through a cubby hole and up a narrow ladder, we found ourselves standing in the tower directly behind the clock - amazing! The bottom panel of the clock actually opens and Park Avenue is visible below. Our visit was so perfectly timed, that we even saw the minute hand of the clock move!
Dan Brucker watching time go by.
View of Park Avenue from the clock tower. I wonder if Tiffany & Co. delivered the clock in a not-so-little blue box?