Grand Central Terminal often incorrectly referred as Grand Central Station, or simply Grand Central is a terminal station in New York City. Grand Central Terminal it is the largest train station in the world with 44 platforms and 67 tracks along them. The tracks are bots below ground with 2 levels , 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower. When the Long Island Rail Road’s new station opens, Grand Central will offer a total of 75 tracks and 48 platforms. The terminal covers an area of 48 acres (19 ha).
Grand Central Terminal was constructed in 10 years from 1903 till 1913 with a total cost of 80 million $ , for the New York and Harlem Railroad company. It is a grand Beaux-Arts building which serves as a transportation hub connecting train, metro, car and pedestrian traffic in an efficient way. Unfortunately 180 buildings between 42nd and 50th street, including hospitals and churches, had to be demolished in order for the Grand Central Terminal to be constructed. Even though the railway station officially opened in 1913 , it was fully operational only 14 years later.
Although the terminal has been named Grand Central Terminal since 1913, many people continue to call it Grand Central Station after a nearby post office and the name of a previous rail station on the site.Penn Station , the other grand railway station built in 1911 was destroyed in 1963-1966 and replaced by a banal railway station and office tower.
The building’s facade on 42nd Street has a true beaux-arts design. Large arches flanked by Corinthian columns are topped by a large sculpture group designed by Jules-Alexis Coutain. The 50ft / 15m high group depicts Mercury supported by Minerva and Hercules.
The main concourse is impressive with its 470ft long, 160ft wide and 150ft high (143 x 49 x 43 meter) dimensions . The ceiling is painted by the French artist Paul Helleu. The design with zodiac constellations was taken from a medieval manuscript. It is painted backwards, so the stars are shown as they would be seen by god, not by man. Light enters the main concourse through six 75ft / 23m arched windows. The western double staircase in Botticino marble was designed after the large staircase in the former Opera building in Paris. It connects the main concourse with the entrance on the Vanderbilt Avenue. The floor of the concourse is of Tennessee marble, the walls of Caen stone.
In 1994, the firms of LaSalle Partners and Williams Jackson Ewing were chosen, after their successful renovation of the Union Station in Washington DC ,to redevelop Grand Central Terminal.
The desire was to increase revenue while restoring the building’s former grandeur and was achieved by renovating the large public areas, removing former alterations, adding a new entrance and creating a retail mall and food court, similar to the renovation project in Washington D.C. The total cost of this project was estimated at 197 million $ . The renovation included the adding a large iron eagle on top of the new Lexington Avenue & 43rd Street entrance.