Saturday, February 21, 2009

Secrets of Grand Central Terminal

One of the things I love about architecture is the stories of our past that can be learned from the details of construction, use and demolition. The evolution of New York, like much of the country, can be followed by learning the stories of it's architecture and transportation systems. By digging beyond the present, understanding the past...I think I get a better sense of who we are today...and maybe even where we are going tomorrow.

The story of the Vanderbilt fortune and legacy is beyond the scope of my blog...but I highly recommend checking it out. Here is an excellent start:

While I always seem to have a unique view of New York, I got to some amazing behind the scenes places today, thanks to Dan Brucker, Spokesman for the Metro North Railroad and Lt. Kevin Franklin of the BART SWAT team. Here are a few blog images:
This is the very top of the windows on either end of the concourse. The glass floor in the walkways is two inches thick and has a rough surface. The ironwork is amazing and the windows on each side open, to ventilate the station prior to air conditioning.

The windows open via an intricate gear and chain system.

When your train is late, and nobody else knows why....and if you can find them, maybe you can ask...the controllers.
Here in the Operations Center, every switch is monitored, every train is watched. Actually, except for a few desktops with flatscreens, it doesn't look that high tech. Looks just like the control room in the '70's movie "The Taking of Pelham 123".
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's secret presidential rail car, used to transport the president and his Packard car up to street level. This way nobody saw him in a wheel chair, which he viewed as a serious image concern.
The Zodiak mural is actually backwards. The artist made a mirror image by mistake. Still... breathtaking.

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