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Inaccessible New York: Behind The Scenes At Grand Central Terminal

March 30, 2013 10:00 AM

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Grand Central Terminal from the outside (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Grand Central Terminal from the outside (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

by Evan Bindelglass, CBSNewYork.com

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - As we continue our tour of spots in New York that are off limits to the general public, what better place to profile than the Grand Central Terminal, which just celebrated its centennial.

Grand Central Terminal is the world’s largest rail terminal. It covers 49 acres, going from 42nd Street all the way up to 97th Street, with Park Avenue essentially built on much of its roof.

It’s among the six most visited sites in New York City. Every day, 750,000 people go through Grand Central, but about 200,000 of them don’t ever board a train. Many people just go there for lunch or a tour – but not like this one.

Metro-North Railroad’s Dan Brucker served as tour guide.

EASTERN CATWALK

People will immediately recognize the massive arched windows on the east and west sides of the main concourse. Running behind those huge windows are a series of catwalks at various levels, mostly for maintenance (and the odd lucky journalist).

Grand Central Terminal Main Concourse (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Grand Central Terminal Main Concourse (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

The view from the fifth floor catwalk on the east side is impressive.

View of Grand Central Terminal's main concourse from fifth floor catwalk (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

View of Grand Central Terminal’s main concourse from fifth floor catwalk (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

View from the fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

View from the fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

View from the fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

View from the fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Fifth floor catwalk at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

SKYLIGHTS FROM ABOVE

Among the beauties of Grand Central are the various bare-bulb chandeliers. Here are the chandeliers along the south side of the main concourse, hanging below skylights.

Grand Central Terminal chandeliers (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Grand Central Terminal chandeliers (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Here is what the skylights look like from above.

South skylights at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

South skylights at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

METRO-NORTH MASTER CONTROL ROOM

It is from this room that the entire railroad is kept on track. Brucker said the people in this room know where every single piece of equipment is. If a train has a maintenance issue is, they know exactly where to find its replacement.

South skylights at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Master Control room at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

South skylights at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Master Control at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

TIFFANY CLOCK

Behind master control is a series of ladders and narrow passages that lead to a one-of-a-kind work of art and time-keeping.

Ladder up to Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Ladder up to Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Eight stories over 42nd Street is the iconic clock. It is the largest example of Tiffany glass at 13 feet in diameter.

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Around the clock are the gods and goddesses that represent a railroad and how to run a railroad correctly. As Brucker said, there is Mercury for “swiftness of speed” and “for industry.” Hercules, known for his strength, is also there, as is Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

It looks great from the outside, but stepping inside it was like something out of the movie “Hugo.”

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

 

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Workings of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Workings of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Workings of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Workings of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

The “VI” is actually a window that opens out on to Park Avenue South and, if you’re not too big, you can stick your head out!

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Our visit was timed so we could see the hand swing past the open window.

Hand of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Hand of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

This is a perspective you can only get from up there.

Hand of the Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

Tiffany clock at Grand Central Terminal (credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

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