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Grand Central Terminal

26 Mar

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.

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To properly ‘see’ a destination,

you need to do some walking

and we did plenty of it.

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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.

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It didn’t take long to get to Grand Central Terminal.

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It’s nestled nicely amongst the skyscrapers

and not at all very grand from the outside.

At least I didn’t think so.

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If it wasn’t for this little bridge,

that we stopped to photograph,

we might have walked right past

Grand Central Terminal.

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It might have been different from a different approach

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because Grand Central is massive.

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It is also gorgeous.

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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.

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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.

How disgusting!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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But we couldn’t hang around,

there was so much more of Grand Central Terminal

that we hadn’t seen.

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As well as a full food court,

there is plenty of shopping.

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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.

That’s convenience!

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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.

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I’m telling you,

everywhere you look in this terminal

there is something beautiful to behold.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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But the coolest feature of Grand Central Terminal

was the Whispering Gallery.

That’s it down at the bottom of the ramp.

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Whispering Gallery just looks like an area under four archways,

but as its name suggests,

it’s much more.

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Two people stand in opposite corners,

which are about ten metres apart,

and face the wall.

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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.

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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.

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Gosh how lucky are the New York commuters

who get to pass through this station every day.

It’s just beautiful.

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Family Events, Field Trips, Geography, US Holidays

 

2 responses to “Grand Central Terminal

  1. Petra

    March 26, 2016 at 2:13 am

    How fascinating. Didn’t much like the tree chandelier but liked the 4-sided clock and all the marble! I would’ve enjoyed the whispering area too!

     
  2. Sarah

    March 26, 2016 at 2:48 am

    Regarding the accents, after three weeks in the US I was tired of pronouncing “water” 10 different ways until I was understood. They also didn’t understand when we asked “do you sell icecream?” and thought we wanted the “restroom” so we had to resort to sign language, LOL. Ds, who was 10 at the time, said (fairly loudly): “they don’t even understand the word icecream!”

     

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