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NYC's Grand Central and the secrets it hides

Get a sneak peek of what a Discovery Family Channel show is unveiling about the Manhattan terminal.
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    Some believe during World War II president Franklin Rooseveltmay have used this platf|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The abandoned train car on Track 61 is a property of the federal government. Since R| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    Heading down under Waldorf Astoria Hotel to themysterious “track 61.”

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    The massive open floor of Grand Central Terminal. Thousands of people pass thr|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The famous constellation on the roof of Grand CentralStation contains 2500 stars.

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    The famous constellation on the roof of Grand CentralStation contains 2500 stars.

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    Thousands of commuters and tourists hustle and stroll through Grand Central Ter|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The massive windows and giant staircases of GrandCentral Terminal.|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    Beautiful chandeliers hang from the ceiling of GrandCentral Terminal.

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    Tiffany Studios created this iconic time piece for Grand Central Terminal and the clo| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    These massive machines are idle today but back in the40s, this subterranean room was |Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    These massive machines are idle today but back in the40s, this subterranean room was |Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    Dan Brucker in the middle of a tour of the massive acto dc convertors in Grand Centra|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    Dan Bucker up close with the mysterious train car. Thistrain car is eight blocks from|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The bronze cylindrical structure inside the information booth also conceals panels th| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    The bronze cylindrical structure inside the information booth also conceals panels th| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    The spiral stairway that employees inside the information booth on the Grand Concours| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    Daniel Brucker, Metro-North Railroad employee, looks outside the clock.

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    The clock has been keeping Manhattanites on time forover a hundred years. Many consid|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    Vanderbilt handed out the eagles as gifts to hisfriends after Grand Central Station w|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The eagles are said to represent America. There are two of them. Eachnine feet tall, |Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The entrance to the massive lost & found operation at Grand Central Terminal. |Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The screens allow managers to pinpoint where the trains are, which ones are on time, |Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The timings displayed on the departure boards at Grand Central are purposely incorre| Neha Banka Kanoria

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    If you need to know how to find Campbell Apartment, or you need to know anything at a|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

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    The screens allow managers to pinpoint where the trains are, which onesare on time, a|Indigo Films/Discovery Family Channel

On any given day 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal, according to Metro North, making it one of the busiest hubs for commuters in the country.

Amid all that hustle and bustle, as throngs of commuters, employees and tourists pass through its cavernous Grand Concourse and shopping and dining areas, how many stop to observe their surroundings?

An eight-part series on “Secrets of America’s Favorite Places,” attempts to delve into the history of famous landmarks around the country to unearth little known facts, with each part focusing on one iconic structure.

While some of Grand Central’s secrets are known only to employees, others are open secrets. “Some are more accessible than others and some you can only unearth by talking to an expert or by finding an old out-of-print book,” explained Paul Sauer, senior series producer at Indigo Films for the Discovery Family Channel.

The most well-known unofficial guide to Grand Central is Daniel Brucker, a longtime Metro-North Railroad employee, who has been working at Grand Central for more than 25 years. Beginning his tour at the information booth in the Grand Concourse, Brucker described perhaps the most intriguing aspect and a well-known secret of Grand Central.

“Within the Terminal is a secret train station that was built during the Great Depression, (it) cost a lot of money and was built for one person only,” explained Brucker. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had been paralyzed from the waist down by polio, a fact largely unknown to the public at that time, would arrive on his own private train to Grand Central.

Inside of train cars would be his limousine. On the secret platform, an elevator was custom-made to accommodate Roosevelt’s limousine and Secret Service bodyguards. The elevator would carry Roosevelt, his car and his entourage directly to the Waldorf Astoria hotel, unseen by the public, the press and the Waldorf Astoria employees. The now-abandoned train car still lies in the depths of the terminal.

A secret hiding in plain sight is inside the information booth in the center of the Grand Concourse. A bronze cylindrical structure inside the booth conceals an old spiral stairway that employees inside the booth use to get to the lower level of the terminal.

While looking at the giant clock on top of the booth one wouldn’t even realize it’s made of opal, and valued today at a few million dollars by auction houses. Acorn and oak leaf motifs adorn everything from detailing on walls to adornments on lighting fixtures because they were the symbol of the Vanderbilt family who built the original depot in 1871. One of the most visible rests atop the opal clock.

Are there more undiscovered secrets that are waiting to be found? “The place is so vast and we only had five days to film this. Imagine if someone spent six months, how much more would they find,” said Sauer.

The episode on Grand Central airs on the Discovery Family Channel at 6 p.m. Sunday.

 

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