New York – Grand Central Terminal, NY (NYG)
Opened to the traveling public in 1913, Grand Central Terminal is considered an architectural and engineering masterpiece, vital transportation hub, vibrant commercial center – and a symbol of New York City.
89 East 42nd Street
between Vanderbilt and Lexington Avs
New York, NY 10017
Annual Station Ridership (2016): N/A
- Facility Ownership: Forthcoming
- Parking Lot Ownership: N/A
- Platform Ownership: Forthcoming
- Track Ownership: Forthcoming
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
On July 10, 2017, Amtrak began temporarily serving Grand Central Terminal in New York City more than a quarter century after it ended regularly-scheduled service to the soaring Beaux-Arts structure located in Midtown East. In coordination with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), select Empire Service trains will operate to/from Grand Central from July 10 – Sept. 1, 2017, as part of modified Amtrak service during infrastructure renewal work at New York Penn Station.
Opened to the traveling public in 1913, Grand Central is considered an architectural and engineering masterpiece, vibrant commercial center, vital transportation hub – and a symbol of New York City. It is served by Metro-North Railroad commuter trains and is readily accessible from the subway and various bus lines.
The first railroad to open on the island of Manhattan was the New York and Harlem, which began service to the east side in 1832 and eventually crossed the Harlem River to reach the Bronx – and thus mainland New York. Decades later, it was absorbed into the powerful New York Central Railroad (NYC) under the control of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.
By the dawn of the 20th century, growth in commuter and long-distance rail traffic convinced the NYC to construct a new facility to replace its Grand Central Station, parts of which dated to the early 1870s. Taking advantage of improved electric power systems and the possibility for real estate investment around a new station, the NYC chose to bury the tracks, rail yard and concourses at an average of 30 feet below street level. When completed, travelers only saw the magnificent neoclassical terminal building dominating the vista up Park Avenue.
While NYC Chief Engineer William Wilgus focused on the subterranean challenges, prominent architectural firms Reed and Stem of St. Paul, Minn., and Warren and Wetmore of New York City collaborated on the design of the massive station building. Its construction and embellishment required the skills of master craftsmen with expertise in stone carving, plaster and metal work, and painting. Most visitors remember the Grand Concourse ceiling on which Paul César Helleu’s gold-leafed star charts twinkle against a soothing cerulean blue night sky.
In the late 1960s, Grand Central was threatened with partial demolition and subsequently became the centerpiece of a landmark legal case about historic preservation law that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
When Amtrak began operations in 1971, it originally served both New York Penn Station and Grand Central, which are about a mile apart. Trains operating over the busy Northeast Corridor and points as far south as Miami and New Orleans used the former, while trains headed to northern and western destinations such as Buffalo, Montreal and Toronto used the latter.
In the summer of 1988, Amtrak and NYSDOT announced a plan, known as the West Side Connection, to consolidate all intercity passenger rail services in New York City at Penn Station. The move would improve Amtrak operations and finances: customers from upstate New York and the Hudson River Valley would no longer have to transfer between stations, and Amtrak would only have to maintain and staff one facility.
The Amtrak-NYSDOT plan took advantage of a strategic freight line, shuttered in 1982, that ran approximately 10 miles up the west side of Manhattan and crossed to the Bronx; from there, the line connected with the existing tracks used for northbound service. The roadbed was rehabilitated to support passenger service, but there were two obstacles to address at either end.
To take the line into Penn Station, a tunnel had to be constructed close to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. At the northern tip of Manhattan, the steel turntable Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, built in 1900 across the Harlem River, needed repairs before it could be put back into service.
Work wrapped up by spring 1991, and on April 7, operations began over the West Side Connection. Although the consolidation made travel easier for Amtrak passengers connecting to other parts of the national system, it also meant that Grand Central lacked long-distance trains for the first time in its history.
Metro-North Railroad took over operation of Grand Central in 1983 and began a multi-million dollar series of restorations that culminated in a rededication ceremony in 1998. Today, Grand Central Terminal is not simply a transportation hub, but is also a popular destination for fine dining and shopping, as well as special exhibits and events.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station, which is served by six weekday trains. Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.
Image courtesy of Emily Moser.