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A Detailed Guide to the Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal, also referred to as the Grand Central Station, is the terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It opened in 1913 to rave reviews calling it the greatest station in the United States. Even after more than 100 years now, it remains an architectural icon and one of the most visited landmarks in the world. It attracts up to 21.6 million visitors annually which does not include commuters. Let us look further into what makes the Grand Central such a hot spot for visitors around the world.  

Grand Central Terminal 1 scaled

How to get there

Grand Central Terminal is situated between Vanderbilt and Park Avenues on East 42nd Street. The main entrance is on 89 East 42nd Street between Vanderbilt and Park Avenues with further entrances on Vanderbilt Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and 45th Street.  

You can avoid the crazy midtown traffic by taking public transport. It is directly accessible via the 4,5,6,7 and S subway lines, while the M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, and M42 buses have stops outside the station. If you would like to use a cab or a ride-sharing app to get there, you need to specify the 89 East 42nd Street entrance. It is the closest one to the Metro-North service.   

What to see at Grand Central Terminal

  • Exterior – You can start on the outside of the Terminal. You will find a bunch of sculptures at the top of the building. This was designed by Jules Felix-Coutan and depicts Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules representing wisdom, speed, and strength. Just under Mercury is the exterior clock of Grand Central. This is the largest piece of Tiffany glass in the world. You will see eagles perched on the corner of the building, they used to previously adorn Grand Central Station. They have very real and wild expressions on their faces. This is done to keep the pigeons away from it. The Commodore is the statue out in the front.   
  • Main Concourse – This is the center of all activity in the terminal. You will find people rushing here through this gigantic 275 ft-long space to catch their trains. You should look to spend some time over here and appreciate its grandeur but make sure you avoid rush hours (8-9 am and 5-6 pm). The Main Concourse has appeared in several films including Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ and the animated film ‘Madagascar’.  
  • The Ceiling – This is easily the most popular part of Grand Central Terminal. The ceiling depicts the constellations of the zodiac. Even though the ceiling is quite beautiful, it is not correct and is astronomically backward. This error was pointed out by a commuter in 1913. The official explanation given was that it was painted to reflect the perspective of God looking down.  
  • The Clock – This four-sided clock could be the most legendary feature of the Grand Central. Many New Yorkers have used it used a meeting spot over the years. It is made of brass, and it is said that its faces are made up of opals and its value is over $10 million. Another thing you will notice is that the time on the Grand Central clock is always a minute or so ahead of the time on your phone or watch. This is done so that people do not get late for their trains and avoid potential hazards.   
  • Carvings of acorns and leaves – Make sure you have your eyes out for carvings of acorns and leaves all through the station. Cornelius Vanderbilt had them chosen as a family symbol and their family motto was “Great oaks from tiny acorns grow”. There are these carvings all over the Terminal, some of them are small and some are large.   
  • The Biltmore Room – It is also known as the “The Kissing Room”. During the height of train travels for long distances, the 20th Century Limited train from the West Coast arrived at the tracks next to the Biltmore Room. At the Biltmore Room, passengers would sometimes include movie stars and politicians would often reunite with their loved ones. Due to the excessive hugging and kissing, it was nicknamed “The Kissing Room”.   
  • The Whispering Gallery – This is also one of the most popular spots in Grand Central. The Whispering Gallery is mostly crowded with people who have their faces pressed into the corner. This gallery transmits sound perfectly from corner to corner, so that you will hear the sound of your friend from any corner as though you were standing face to face. This is due to the precise arch of the ceiling and the tiled surface.   
Grand Central Terminal 3 scaled

Dining and shopping

Grand Central is worth visiting even if you do not have a train to catch. Grand Central Oyster Bar is one of the most popular restaurants which is as old as the station itself. Other than that, there is the Michelin-starred Agern which is a relatively new restaurant and has Nordic cuisine. For those looking for something more casual, make sure you don’t miss the collection of New York favorites like Jacques Torres Chocolate, Doughnut Plant, Shack Shake, and Cafe Grumpy.   

For those looking to shop, you can look at 65 boutiques that include Warby Parker and Tumi. Fans of tennis can go to the public tennis club. Also, make sure to check out the Vanderbilt Hall to see if there’s an upcoming event or exhibit.   


  • Pestana Park Avenue – It is 0.2 miles from Grand Central Terminal which makes it just a 5-minute walk.  
  • Library Hotel by Library Hotel Collection – The Library’s location is superb and is just within 0.1 miles of Grand Central Terminal.   
  • Fitzpatrick Grand Central – It has one of the best value hotels near Grand Central and is just within 0.1 miles of Grand Central.   
  • The Westin New York Grand Central – Even though the breakfast area here can get crowded the staff always find a place enough for a family of 5 or more. It is also just two blocks away from Grand Central.  
  • The Renwick – It is just 0.2 miles off Grand Central which means just a 5-minute walk to get over there.   

Nearby Attractions

  • Subway Navigation – You can familiarize yourself with the various subway routes to Grand Central-42nd Street. This will allow you to have a smoother experience on the subway.   
  • Train schedules – Make sure you check the Metro-North Railroad schedules for timely arrivals and departures.   
  • Information Booth – You can locate the information booth on the Main Concourse to get more information about Maps and routes.   
  • Bryant Park – You can take a short walk to Bryant Park and explore its natural beauty along with its various events.  
  • New York Public Library – You should visit the New York Public Library which is known for its stunning architecture and literary riches.  
Grand Central Terminal 4


  • You should consider taking the self-guided audio tours which are available at the information booth. This will allow you to learn more about the history and architecture of Grand Central.   
  • The terminal is a very busy transportation and even though it is permitted to take pictures, you should still be careful and mindful of your surroundings and people.  
  • Remember to check if there are many guided tours or events taking place before you visit Grand Central. They often host many tours that explore its history and secrets.   

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