Thursday 14 March 2013

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  Here are ten things you may not know about the New York City landmark.

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1.  Grand Central Depot opened in 1870.  It was rebuilt as Grand Central Station in 1900.  A train accident which resulted in 17 deaths, caused the railway companies to rebuild the station in 1913, this time as the Grand Central Terminus.

2.  The railway station's Lost & Found has a 75% success rate for returning lost items to their rightful owner.  Items include:  human ashes, a basset hound, a turtle, a marriage licence, a wooden leg and false teeth.

3.  Oak leaves and acorns adorn Grand Central Station including an acorn-shaped compass on top of the information booth clock.  Cornelius Vanderbilt, who financed the station, came from a family whose motto was:  "From the acorn grows the mighty oak."

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4.  Many movies have been shot in Grand Central Station.  Train shots are always shot on Track 34 since it has no columns.  "Puttin' on the Ritz", filmed in the 1930's, was the first movie shot at Grand Central while "The Band Wagon", with Fred Astaire, was the first colour film shot there.

5.  Grand Central attendants with red caps used to help carry passengers' baggage while those sporting green caps helped deliver passengers' messages.

6.  The 20th Century Limited used to travel from Chicago to New York City.  The red carpet was rolled out for famous passengers like Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Bette Davis.

7.  Walter Cronkite anchored his first broadcast of the CBS Evening News in 1962 from Grand Central.

8.  Jazz musician Charles Mingus proposed to his girlfriend in the Grand Central Terminal in 1974.  She said yes!

9.  Unused Track 61 was attached to a tunnel which ran under the Waldorf Astoria in the 1930's used to whisk away a famous passenger, President Franklin Roosevelt, so the public would not know he was wheelchair bound (see my post "Armoured Train Hid President's Paralysis" dated January 21, 2013).

10.  A giant rocket, housed in Grand Central Station in the 1950's, left a large hole in the ceiling.

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