Feature Grand Central Station

Find out more about one of the most iconic buildings in America.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station, officially named Grand Central Terminal is one of the most iconic buildings in America.

Dominating Midtown Manhattan, it was built by the New York Central Rail Road, in the era of the passenger train.

Among its most impressive statistics, it boasts being the biggest station in the world with 44 platforms and 67 tracks.

Covering 49 acres of land it allows 125,000 commuters to get to work every day, 98 percent of them on time.

But perhaps it’s the finer details that make Grand Central so special, particularly in the Main Concourse.

Entering this spectacular area the clock is perhaps the most recognisable symbol of the building, and with four opal faces it is estimated to be worth a cool $10-20 million.

Looking up, the ceiling is also a testament to the grandeur and opulence of the space. Decorated by artist Paul Helleu in 1912 it features a motif of the zodiac. This design is famously inverted: some say because Helleu was inspired by a medieval manuscript showing the heavens as they would be seen from outside celestial sphere. Others believe he simply made a mistake.

The ceiling also bears the scars of history. In the middle of the stars above the symbol of Pisces appears a small darkened circle. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. In order to reassure the American public, the Main Concourse became the location of a Redstone missile. It was so big that a hole had to be made in the ceiling to allow it to be comfortably housed.

1998 saw the completion of a 12 year restoration project of Grand Central. The ceiling, which was believed to be coated in coal and diesel smoke residue, was actually found to be covered in nicotine and tar.

Historical Preservation decided to keep not only the missile hole, but also a patch of grime, to remind passengers of how dirty they had made the ceiling.