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87 E. 42nd St., nr. Park Ave. (Midtown East)
New York, NY
(1) 212-340-2583 | www.grandcentralterminal.com
ATTRACTIONHistoric Train Station
HOURS/TIMESTrain station: Daily: 5:30am-2:00am; Audio guide kiosk: Daily: 9:00am-6:00pm
PRICE (AUDIOTOURS)Adults: USD 7; Seniors: USD 6; Students and Children: USD 5
POPULAR TIMESEvening rush hour
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSCelestial ceiling mural in the main concourse; Oyster Bar; The Campbell Apartment
SUBWAYGrand Central-42nd St. (4, 5, 6, 7, S)
It narrowly escaped the wrecking ball in the 1970s, but thanks to the efforts of preservationists and concerned New Yorkers (most prominently Jackie O), Grand Central Station not only still stands, but also has recently undergone a thorough restoration. Rediscovered treasures in this enormous Beaux-Arts treasure (an overblown–but thankfully serviceable–vanity project by Cornelius Vanderbilt) include a dazzling gold-leaf-encrusted celestial mural on the ceiling of the main concourse; the Whispering Gallery (where you can throw secrets around a curved wall to your waiting friends); and imposing statues of Minerva, Hercules, and Mercury on the exterior. Besides ogling the architecture or rushing through on the way to a train (like 750,000 commuters do daily), the hedonistically inclined among us can now also lavishly wine and dine their way through the station. Culinary treats range from farm-fresh produce at Grand Central Market to the catch of the day at the posh Oyster Bar to elegant cocktails at 1920s throwback Campbell Apartment. There is a surprisingly well-stocked food court in the basement where you can nab everything from Ciao Bella gelato to Two Boots pizza to famous New York Cheesecake from Junior’s.
GO HERE WITH
Architecture buffs; a date; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
The architecture is positively spectacular, and the dining and imbibing options (we’re particularly keen on the Oyster Bar and the Campbell Apartment) are a lovely complement. But, if we’re honest, what we really love is the rush of people–not only does it make for fabulous people-watching, but it also makes travel aficionados like us feel energized for our next adventure.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
It’s really tricky to navigate–and unfortunately, due to terrorism concerns, they’ve removed all of the maps.
GOOD TO KNOW
If you are going to ohh and ahh at the architecture, we would not advise visiting during rush hour, when the crush of commuters makes lingering impossible. Audio guides are available from a kiosk in the main hall of the terminal; tours are available in “local” and “express” versions (thirty minutes and one hour respectively), and are offered in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, and German. If audio guides aren’t your thing, you can also take the self-guided tour provided on the Grand Central Terminal website. Fun fact about the celestial mural in the main concourse: some of the constellations on it are actually backwards because artist Paul Helleu (allegedly) took his inspiration from a medieval manuscript where the heavens were depicted as they would look “from God’s perspective” (though many believe he just held the star map the wrong way around). A new Apple Store was built in the terminal in December 2011.
Union Station (Washington, DC)
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