Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America

Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America

4.0 1
by Sam Roberts
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A rich, illustrated - and entertaining — history of the iconic Grand Central Terminal, from one of New York City's favorite writers, just in time to celebrate the train station's 100th fabulous anniversary.

In the winter of 1913, Grand Central Station was officially opened and immediately became one of the most beautiful and recognizable Manhattan landmarks.

See more details below

Overview

A rich, illustrated - and entertaining — history of the iconic Grand Central Terminal, from one of New York City's favorite writers, just in time to celebrate the train station's 100th fabulous anniversary.

In the winter of 1913, Grand Central Station was officially opened and immediately became one of the most beautiful and recognizable Manhattan landmarks. In this celebration of the one hundred year old terminal, Sam Roberts of The New York Times looks back at Grand Central's conception, amazing history, and the far-reaching cultural effects of the station that continues to amaze tourists and shuttle busy commuters.

Along the way, Roberts will explore how the Manhattan transit hub truly foreshadowed the evolution of suburban expansion in the country, and fostered the nation's westward expansion and growth via the railroad.

Featuring quirky anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information, this book will allow readers to peek into the secret and unseen areas of Grand Central — from the tunnels, to the command center, to the hidden passageways.

With stories about everything from the famous movies that have used Grand Central as a location to the celestial ceiling in the main lobby (including its stunning mistake) to the homeless denizens who reside in the building's catacombs, this is a fascinating and, exciting look at a true American institution.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Roberts delivers the story of one of the most famous transportation hubs in the world and how it shaped Midtown Manhattan into the bustling, thriving center of commerce and entertainment it is today. This is also a history of railroads in New York, from horse-pulled streetcars, to steam engines, to the electric trains brought to the city by Grand Central's chief engineer William Wilgus. Credited with being the first person to monetize "air rights", Wilgus conceived of Grand Central as a 12 story building with the terminal below and 2.3 million square feet above to be rented out to businesses. Roberts, the New York Times's Metro Matters columnist, covers the details of the construction of Grand Central as well as its massive renovation in the 1990's. He describes the massive changes in Midtown area after its initial construction, including the arrival of luxury hotels and office towers. "With Grand Central acting as an anchor," he writes, "Park Avenue was elevated into New York's most prestigious address." A wonderful volume for New York City history buffs or railroad aficionados, Roberts closes with discussions of some of the terminal's quirks and mysteries like the ubiquitous decorative acorns, the secret staircase, and various secret underground locations.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A middling account of the architectural splendor that is Manhattan's Grand Central Station. "Modern time began at Grand Central," writes New York Times urban affairs correspondent Roberts (A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturz and Society's Toughest Problems, 2009, etc.), an aperçu he repeats a few times in his paean to what is certainly America's definitive, if not greatest, railway terminal. The author observes that it was the need of the new railroads to observe an established schedule that resulted in standardized time--no news to readers of Wolfgang Schivelbusch, that great historian of technology, but a useful gauge all the same in explaining why a railroad station should merit our attention. There are other reasons, which Roberts attentively enumerates: In the instance of Grand Central, which indeed pioneered standardized time and has lived through a few incarnations since ground was broken for the modern structure 110 years ago, it contains the world's largest piece of Tiffany glass, to say nothing of "the largest sculptural grouping in the world" and a ceiling that famously invokes the vastness of the firmament. Roberts closes his rambling, almanaclike narrative with an account of where the ceiling painter went wrong; apparently, railroad officials explained that "the celestial mural represented God's view." There's nothing wrong with an assemblage of oddments and answers to common questions, as any trivia buff will tell you, but at times, Roberts' book resembles an infodump of semidigested notes; this is nowhere more true than in the section on Grand Central in popular culture. Still, the book is inarguably populated by a fascinating cast of characters, from the barons of the late Gilded Age to Jackie O. Grand Central deserves a deep history as good as the World Trade Center got with James Glanz and Eric Lipton's City in the Sky (2003). This isn't it, though railway-history buffs may enjoy this book.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455525966
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
01/22/2013
Pages:
303
Sales rank:
320,284
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >