NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Renovations have been completed at the whispering gallery in Grand Central Terminal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced.
A $450,000 project was completed on time and on budget to restore the Guastavino tile ceiling in the whispering gallery, which is located in front of the Oyster Bar on the lower level of the rail terminal.
It was finished just in time for the holiday season, during which time nearly 1 million people pass through the terminal every day, the MTA said.
The project involved re-affixing and pinning loose tiles, and replacing the raised mortar between the herringbone-patterned, glazed Terra Cotta tile work, as well as cleaning the 2,000-square-foot chamber.
In all, about 200 had to be replaced, and new ones were “painstakingly” duplicated by Boston Valley Terra Cotta of Buffalo in a style to emulate Guastavino – a family company that closed in 1962, the MTA said.
The project was completed by Graciano Corp. of Pittsburgh, which also restored the Guastavino tile vaults under the 59th Street Queensboro Bridge, the MTA said.
The whispering gallery allows visitors to stand in diagonal corners of the 50-foot-wide chamber and whisper to each other as the sound carries across the domed ceiling. Other prominent whispering galleries are located at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, the Mapparium in Boston, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
The Grand Central Terminal whispering gallery is known as a site for marriage proposals. Legend has it that jazz legend Charlie Mingus often played his bass in the gallery, and also proposed to his wife there.
The ceiling in the Oyster Bar restaurant a Grand Central will be repaired in a separate project that has yet to be scheduled, the MTA said.
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