Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a Landmark

Grand Central Terminal's centennial is being marked by the release of an impressive new hardcover book that takes a look deep behind the scenes of the greatest railway terminal in the world.

Click here for a slideshow preview of the book.

Photo of Grand Central Terminal interior clock

Delving into the magnificent landmark's history and design, the 224-page book is packed with more than 250 color and black and white photographs sourced from the photo collection of Metro-North Railroad and the archives of the New York Transit Museum.

Museum Director Gabrielle Shubert called the Terminal an extremely popular topic with several books having been written about it but, “We wanted to examine interesting topics that had been overlooked in other books. We sought to spotlight Grand Central Terminal as a unique public space where over the years, people have come to celebrate, to mourn and to just pass the time amidst truly spectacular surroundings,” said Shubert.

“Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark,” by the New York Transit Museum and Anthony W. Robins serves as a coffee table celebration of an historic piece of New York City architecture and the year-long centennial event. The informative text is enhanced by stunning photographs taken over the past century, including many recent images made by just-retired Metro-North photographer Frank English and the MTA's chief photographer, Patrick Cashin.

“This richly illustrated book brings to life the history and glamour of the Terminal where some of us are privileged to work,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut. “Even those of us to know the terminal intimately will garner new knowledge from Robins' insightful book.”

English spent 30 years “shooting the terminal” and during that time he said that he has seen many changes, and it has never looked as good as it does today. “It was always an interesting place, but today, I really enjoy it being cleaner, safer and much more of a destination.”

A native of the University Heights section of the Bronx, English made his first trip to Grand Central Terminal as a child in 1941, arriving there aboard the Jerome Avenue Express.

English said that it was an honor for him to have his photos included in the book, which does a terrific job of illustrating the day-to-day life of the terminal and the behind the scenes areas that commuters and visitors never see.

Readers will quickly see that no matter how impressive the structure, the greatness lies in the details and the photos of everything from the whispering gallery to the four-sided clock that sits atop the Information Booth, and revel in the details of this glorious railroad palace.

Divided into eight chapters, everything is examined from; Grand Central Before the Terminal, to Behind the Scenes and Power to Grand Central Terminal's place as New York City's town square. There is even a chapter devoted to the Terminal's place in motion picture history. Most will remember the featured part it played in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant.

The book also highlights the other aspects of Grand Central's existence. Sure, it was the terminal stop for the New York Central and New Haven Railroads, as it now serves the same function for the three main branches of Metro-North Railroad. However, the station also housed a tennis court, television studio, USO lounge, a power station ten stories below and remains the only building in New York City with a roadway (Park Avenue) that splits and is routed around it.

All in all, this is a great read about a fascinating structure that has been a central part of the greatest city in the world for the past century.

About the author:

Anthony W. Robins, formerly survey director for New York's Landmarks Commission, has written and lectured about the city's architecture and history for 30 years. The author of Classics of American Architecture: The World Trade Center and Subway Style, he has written for the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Architectural Record. Tony Hiss, (who wrote the introduction) is a celebrated author, urbanist and commentator, and a longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine.

Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, “Grand Central Terminal:100 Years of a New York Landmark” is available in bookstores everywhere for $40 and at the New York Transit Museum, located at Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, in Downtown Brooklyn, and at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store, located (where else?) in Grand Central Terminal.