“Looks behind the facade to see the hidden engineering marvels . . . will deepen anyone’s appreciation for New York’s most magnificent interior space.” —The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Professional/Scholarly Publishing Award in Architecture from the Association of American Publishers
Grand Central Terminal, one of New York City’s preeminent buildings, stands as a magnificent Beaux-Arts monument to America’s Railway Age, and it remains a vital part of city life today. Completed in 1913 after ten years of construction, the terminal became the city’s most important transportation hub, linking long-distance and commuter trains to New York’s network of subways, elevated trains, and streetcars. Its soaring Grand Concourse still offers passengers a majestic gateway to the wonders beyond 42nd Street.
In Grand Central Terminal, Kurt C. Schlichting traces the history of this spectacular building, detailing the colorful personalities, bitter conflicts, and Herculean feats of engineering that lie behind its construction. Schlichting begins with Cornelius Vanderbilt—“The Commodore”—whose railroad empire demanded an appropriately palatial passenger terminal in the heart of New York City. Completed in 1871, the first Grand Central was the largest rail facility in the world and yet—cramped and overburdened—soon proved thoroughly inadequate for the needs of this rapidly expanding city. William Wilgus, chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, conceived of a new Grand Central Terminal, one that would fully meet the needs of the New York Central line. Grand Central became a monument to the creativity and daring of a remarkable age.
More than a history of a train station, this book is the story of a city and an age as reflected in a building aptly described as a secular cathedral.