The Secrets of New York City's Grand Central Terminal
If you are bound for New York City, stop by Grand Central Terminal and explore its hidden quirks.
Manhattan’s second most visited tourist site was built in 1913 as a result of one of the city's most tragic train accidents. Envisioned by the self-taught engineer William Wilgus, the terminal is a civic engineering masterpiece that required no public funding. Thanks to Wilgus’ use of new electric trains, tracks could be built deep enough underground to make use of the “air space” above to lease to developers and merchants. And like everything else in New York, it couldn’t just be grand, it had to be beautiful.
The terminal's main concourse is an exceptional Beaux Arts building that welcomes over 750,000 people a day. Grand Central Terminal is not only the world’s largest train terminal, it’s also living history with 101 years of secrets to share with curious visitors. To get your started, here are 11 of our favorites:
If you’re running a minute late to catch a train, then don’t worry—you’re right on time! In order to give passengers 60 seconds extra time to board, every departure is listed one minute earlier than the train’s actual departure.
The building’s massive overhead mural was supposed to replicate a night sky in October. But if you look closer, you’ll notice the zodiac is painted backwards. This may have been a mistake, or as Cornelius Vanderbilt claimed, “It was always meant to be viewed from a celestial perspective.”
During the renovation of the terminal in the 90’s, the ceiling was cleaned of grime from cigarette smoke. One brick however, was left uncleaned and can be seen next to Cancer, the Crab.
Track 61 is a private track occasionally used by VIPs coming into the city. Some of these famous guests were FDR, Andy Warhol and President George W. Bush.
A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR JEWEL
Atop the information booth in the middle of the concourse, is a large four-faced brass clock. Each of the four faces are made out of opal glass and appraisers from Sotheby’s and Christie’s have valued the clock at $10-$20 million.
Inside the multimillion-dollar clock is a hidden spiral staircase that allows the person working the kiosk to travel to another kiosk in the terminal’s lower level.
THE KISSING ROOM
Situated beneath the extravagant Biltmore Hotel, during World War II, this room, also known as the Biltmore Room, was a waiting area for loved ones to greet arriving military troops before moving upstairs to their room.
THE CAMPBELL APARTMENT
This lounge for food and craft cocktails used to be the private office of early twentieth- century magnate, John W. Campbell. It later became a storage unit for transit police and a temporary holding cell for criminals until it was restored in 1999.
Anyone in the mood to play a game of tennis can do so inside Grand Central Terminal. Located in the Annex, The Vanderbilt Tennis Club is open to the public. Reservations are required and prices range from $75-$225 per hour.
Near the Terminal’s Oyster Bar and Restaurant is The Whispering Gallery. Here, you can hear conversations from the other side of the 2,000-square-foot room as if you were right next to the person speaking.
Somewhere deep in the maze that is Grand Central is the terminal’s most guarded secret. The room called M42 provides all of the electricity for Grand Central Terminal. Could you imagine if the power went out in that building? Hundreds of passengers would be stranded! Because of this, we can’t even tell you where to find it. Some secrets are best kept secret.
Window Horses - Crowdfunding Campaign Review ★★★
I had a hard time reviewing the Indiegogo campaign for WINDOW HORSES because it reminded me of the many failed, culturally sensitive screenplays I used to write in college. No matter how important the themes in a script are, or how great its performance-art potential is, without a clear story a movie will fall flat before investors and audiences.
In the campaign, Ann Marie Fleming, the creator of WINDOW HORSES, offers only superfluous reasons to connect with her script like:
The characters are of different ethnicities. That’s great, but I see people of different ethnicities all the time when I go out—doesn’t mean I like them any more because of it.
The characters of different ethnicities do poetry. Because nothing screams “meaningful” more than minorities at open mics.
The main character, Rosie Ming, goes to Tehran. Every decade has its country/culture that people feel the need to teach the masses about. Right now, that hot spot is the Middle East. Just throw in a city from any part of that region, and you’ll be sure to get the words relevant, vital and serious, associated with your project.
Stick figures. Yes, everyone loves the stick. It’s art for the people, by the people: unpretentious and indie, but predictably so. For truly great animation set in Iran with a creative female lead, I suggest the 2007 Oscar nominated film, PERSEPOLIS.
The only intriguing part of the story is when Rosie Ming goes looking for her Iranian father. You would think this emotional quest would be central to the movie and the crowdfunding pitch, but instead it’s a side note to its multiple ethnicities and poetry. I am telling you, there really is poetry in this!
Now one thing Ms. Fleming almost did right was that she got Sandra Oh to do the pitch for her. Usually, famous actors are crowdfunding gold, unless they are Canadian, like Ms. Oh.
Outside of hockey, Canadians lack aggressive energy, which is what you need to raise money. During the video pitch Sandra Oh seems so relaxed that she looks like she’s reading a grocery list to a rug. In fact, she’s so Canadian-laid-back that the animated Rosie Ming floats off into space in the middle of her pitch. Sandra, I know the dope is good up North, but if you want money it’s best to talk like you do cocaine.
Thankfully WINDOW HORSES took the Flexible Funding route, so any money they get is a win. And if there’s one thing all ethnicities and cultures from all over the world including Canada enjoy, is a win. And poetry.
8 Halloween Costumes You Can Pull Together in 5 Minutes
Halloween without a costume is not an option. So for you last-minute revelers, here's a list of eight quick and easy costumes that require nothing more than items you already own and a little role playing. These ideas may be simple, but sometimes easy and clever wins out over more complicated costumes like a handsewn Game of Thrones dragon costume with an animatronic Daenerys Targaryen.
Who doesn't love tourists? They ooh and ah about everything they see, they make friends with locals and they always carry a camera, i.e. the most treasured item you could have at a party! Not only can you easily take photos of your Halloween party and share selfies with friends, but you can do it all while staying in character!
Sun dress or Hawaiian shirt and shorts
Hiking boots or Birkenstocks
Camera, travel guide, sun hat, fanny pack or backpack
Evil stepmoms have kids but dress to ignore them. This costume is 0% loving soccer mom and 100% glam and attitude. Think the 80's prime time soap opera Dynasty. Dress as a "mature" gold digger who delights in the company of men and snarls at the sight of children. Should you need to exert your authority, use the threat, "I'm going to tell your father!"
Evening dress, furs and stiletto heels
Power makeup: red lips, three shades of eyeshadow, heavy blush
Hair: French twist, slicked back hair or anything that can't be touched by children
More jewelry than you can handle: gold chains, rings, bracelets, earrings, etc...
Bonus: “Whipped” Husband (your stepchild's father) — Ask your significant other to be at your beck and call while dressed like an old-school nerd. Think young Bill Gates.
Choose from a roaring '20s flapper, '50s pin-up girl, '60s hippie, '70s disco queen, '80s power woman, or ‘90s grunge hipster. Because fashion recycles, go into your closet and find clothes that are reminiscent of another era. Makeup and hair will do the rest. For clotheshorses, this costume can be spectacular!
Bell bottom jeans with a tucked in tight T-shirt, or use your boho chic attire to go as Stevie Nicks
Shoulder pads and slicked back hair, or use early 2000's hipster clothes to assemble a John McEnroe tennis inspired getup
Grunge is back in style, so grab your cut-off jean shorts, combat boots, concert T-shirt, tiny backpack and tie a flannel shirt around the waist
PAPER BAG CREEP
Show up to a party wearing a brown paper bag with holes cut out for only your eyes and people will think, "Funny, cheap costume." But when they ask who is under the bag and you don't answer, you have just turned it into the creepiest costume ever! You will leave everyone wondering if you're a friend or a serial killer who just crashed the party with an unexpected cover.
Paper bag that fits over your head with holes for eyes only
Plain T-shirt and jeans