Grand Central Terminal Station, New York City
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL.
NEW YORK CITY.
The Grand Central Terminal covers 69.8 acres facing East 42nd Street, from Vanderbilt to Lexington Avenue, the largest and most costly Railroad Station in the world. It has 31 miles of tracks under cover, with a capacity for handling 200 trains and 70,000 passengers each hour. There are 42 tracks for long distance express trains on the 42nd Street level, and 25 trakcs for surburban trains in concourse. 25 feet below the Street.
c.1918 (from a postmark on another card in the same series)
Publisher: American Art Publishing Co, New York City (1918-1925)
GCT is the largest train station in the world in terms of area occupied and number of platforms. The terminal is spread over 49 acres and has 44 platforms. The station is used by more than one million people a week. It serves the Metro-North Commuter railroad, which passes through the city’s suburbs and goes out to Connecticut and New Jersey. The station is currently owned and operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
As train traffic increased in the late 1890s and early 1900s, so did the problems of smoke and soot produced by steam locomotives in the Park Avenue Tunnel, the only approach to the station. This contributed to a crash on January 8, 1902, when a southbound train overran signals in the smoky Park Avenue Tunnel and collided with another southbound train, killing 15 people and injuring more than 30 others.] Shortly afterward, the New York state legislature passed a law to ban all steam trains in Manhattan by 1908. William J. Wilgus, the New York Central’s vice president, later wrote a letter to New York Central president William H. Newman. Wilgus proposed to electrify and place the tracks to Grand Central in tunnels, as well as constructing a new railway terminal with two levels of tracks and making other infrastructure improvements. In March 1903, Wilgus presented a more detailed proposal to the New York Central board. The railroad’s board of directors approved the $35 million project in June 1903; ultimately, almost all of Wilgus’s proposal would be implemented.
The entire building was to be torn down in phases and replaced by the current Grand Central Terminal. It was to be the biggest terminal in the world, both in the size of the building and in the number of tracks. The Grand Central Terminal project was divided into eight phases, though the construction of the terminal itself comprised only two of these phases.
Design competitions for major projects were commonplace in the early 1900s, and the railroad launched one in 1903. Four firms entered: McKim Mead & White, Samuel Huckel, Jr., Reed & Stem, and Daniel Burnham. Reed & Stem won. Its innovative scheme featured pedestrian ramps inside, and a ramp-like roadway outside that wrapped around the building to connect the northern and southern halves of Park Avenue. Were these innovations enough to make Grand Central truly grand? The railroad wasn’t sure. So it hired another architecture firm, Warren & Wetmore, which proposed a monumental façade of three triumphal arches. The two chosen firms collaborated as “Associated Architects.” It was a stormy partnership, but the final design combined the best ideas of both.
Grand Central Terminal