There are several entrances to Grand Central Station. If you enter on the east, you can pass through a market filled with fresh loaves of bread, cheese that can be sliced to your order, jams, jellies, caviar, fruit, vegetables arrayed like they are ready for their close-up. If you enter from Vanderbilt Avenue on the west side across the street from the Yale Club, you'll find restaurants and shops. The north entrance seems the least interesting, but has some fine restaurants.
|Photo by R_Murphy|
But, really, the best way to enter the station is from 42nd Street, especially if you can walk north a few blocks toward it and see the old Pan Am building behind the station like a backdrop. Above the entrance is the Tiffany clock surrounded by Roman gods - Mercury, Minerva, and Hercules. You begin to expect something grand from this viewpoint.
You'll pass through heavy oak and glass doors into a room that houses the photography and art exhibitions whenever they are held. Then you pass into the main terminal with it's vaulted, and exalted, ceiling painted with the constellations of the zodiac. The old ticket windows are still there along the wall, and the four-faced clock is the above the information booth. Across the way are the numbered entrances for the tracks for the trains heading out to Westchester County or Connecticut. And there are people many people, crisscrossing the room, going somewhere, coming from somewhere.
...the million tongues of the unceasing, the fabulous, the million-footed city...(Thomas Wolfe)
This is New York.
Most of the station's 49 acres is underground. Beside the Metro North trains, you can get subway trains 4, 5 to the Bronx or Brooklyn, the 6 train north to the Bronx, the 7 train to Queens, or S train to Times Square. There's also a special underground line - no longer used nor available for public view - from Grand Central to the Waldorf Astoria. This was so that Franklin D. Roosevelt would not be seen by the public as traveled to and from the hotel and was helped in and out of the train due to his physical disabilities.
The Oyster Bar, which opened in 1913 along with the Station, is also underground. You can still sit at the bar, or a table if you prefer, under the vaulted ceilings and think about all the people who have eaten here before you. Since almost a million people a day pass through the station on a daily basis, that would be a lot.