On our last day in New York,
we did a stack of stuff!
Our first destination was Grand Central Terminal.
With temperatures of between -2 and -9 degrees Celsius
(more in windy corridors between some buildings),
we hit the pavement
and walked to our destination.
To properly ‘see’ a destination,
you need to do some walking
and we did plenty of it.
And in a city like New York,
you need to look up when you walk.
Yes, this is the Chrysler Building.
It’s pretty, isn’t it.
It didn’t take long to get to Grand Central Terminal.
It’s nestled nicely amongst the skyscrapers
and not at all very grand from the outside.
At least I didn’t think so.
If it wasn’t for this little bridge,
that we stopped to photograph,
we might have walked right past
Grand Central Terminal.
It might have been different from a different approach
because Grand Central is massive.
It is also gorgeous.
And check out the ceiling!
It’s an astronomical ceiling
but apparently it’s presented backwards.
The reversal was an accident
but they’ve covered the error
by saying that it portrays God’s view of the universe.
Do you see the teeny tiny black spot
on the edge of the constellation ceiling,
just where it meets the white moulding?
This black spot was intentionally left on the ceiling
after it was cleaned in the 90s.
The whole ceiling was that colour.
I can’t imagine it.
And it was mostly created by cigarette smoke.
Our New York passes included an audio tour
of Grand Central Terminal
so we collected our devices
and followed our map around the terminal
listening to information
about all the different areas.
Apparently this American flag was hung in the terminal
a few days after September 11.
Before knowing this,
it was just another American flag,
but once we learned the context behind its installation
the flag took on a whole new meaning.
Within the main information booth,
is a ‘secret’ staircase
(not really so secret since they tell you about it on the tour)
that leads to the downstairs information booth
directly below it.
And yes, we saw someone use it.
We even had to go to the counter
to seek some information
about a subway we wanted to catch.
We didn’t come away
any more knowledgeable.
In places that were noisy
I really struggled to understand
Americans with really thick accents.
(I felt that they ALL had really thick accents!)
There were many times in the US
that I didn’t think we were speaking the same language.
And since it’s impolite to ask a person
to repeat themselves more than once,
we had to use out wits to figure out our problem.
Isn’t the clock gorgeous.
It has four identical faces
(that are apparently made of opal)
and it’s much bigger than it seems.
It’s also reportedly worth a pretty penny.
Oh all of the times on the departure boards
are inaccurate on purpose.
The trains and subways all leave
one minute later than the posted times.
This helps those who think they are running late
to actually be on time.
Personally I think a 5 to 10 minutes margin
would work better.
Oh and no all the armed military
did not make me feel more secure.
It just reminded me of the constant threat to our safety.
But seeing heavily armed police and military
was pretty common place in the US.
While we were in the Main Concourse,
a school group arrived
and began a performance
of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
(President’s Day was only a few days away).
Afterwards, the teacher invited the crowd
to ask questions of his students.
These students knew a lot about Lincoln.
But we couldn’t hang around,
there was so much more of Grand Central Terminal
that we hadn’t seen.
As well as a full food court,
there is plenty of shopping.
They even have a market.
Imagine finishing work,
walking to the train station,
grabbing some fresh ingredients for dinner,
and jumping on your train home.
Check out this chandelier that hangs in the market.
It’s called the Sirshasana
and holds 5000 crystals pendants.
The sculpture represents an olive tree
(the crystals are the olives)
and appears to be ‘growing’ out of the ceiling.
Looking up at it though,
you feel like you are the one who is upside down
looking down at the top of the tree.
I’m telling you,
everywhere you look in this terminal
there is something beautiful to behold.
The marble staircases are modelled after
the staircase in the Paris Opera House.
Such beauty in a train station.
You won’t see anything like it in ours.
Did you know that time zones in the US
began with the railroads?
They suggested it to Congress
but Congress wasn’t interested,
so the railroads went ahead
and created their own time zones.
Further down the track,
Congress got on board with the idea.
Grand Central was also the first ‘stairless’ station.
I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to ramps
but I suppose if you are dragging luggage to your train,
you won’t want to lug it up or down stairs.
(Someone should have mention this clever idea to the subway stations.)
But the coolest feature of Grand Central Terminal
was the Whispering Gallery.
That’s it down at the bottom of the ramp.
Whispering Gallery just looks like an area under four archways,
but as its name suggests,
it’s much more.
Two people stand in opposite corners,
which are about ten metres apart,
and face the wall.
Then you whisper into the wall
and the person on the other side of the room,
despite the noise around you,
can hear you as plain as day.
It’s awesome but weird.
Apparently it’s a popular place for marriage proposals.
Who’d have thought a train station could be so interesting.
We expected to only spend a few minutes
having a quick look around
but we were there for ages
and could have happily stayed for longer.
Gosh how lucky are the New York commuters
who get to pass through this station every day.
It’s just beautiful.