Posts Tagged ‘Grand Central Terminal’

Completed in 1913, the awe-inspiring Beaux-Arts landmark became the country’s busiest train station serving commuter and long distance rail lines and bringing development to midtown Manhattan.

I love to go to Grand Central Terminal.  It is so magnificent with its massive marble floors, soaring ceilings, marble columns.  The ceiling which was restored a few years ago is a heavenly vision of the Zodiac.  There is an astronomical mural depicting the Mediterranean sky during the period between October and March.  There are 2500 stars in the ceiling.  In the center of the main Concourse there is an information booth and a beautiful round 4-sided clock.  “Meet me at the clock”  – an iconic meeting place for decades and has been featured in many films.  

GCT is home to many secrets!  Did you know that in the middle of the Main Concourse there is a marble column that holds a hidden spirlal staircase to the lower level?

The Campbell Apartment, a popular bar, is tucked away out of sight. Formerly the private office and salon of 1920’s tycoon, John W. Campbell; The Campbell Apartment has been fully restored to its original splendor — and reborn as a chic cocktail lounge that has already been cited in the national media as one of “the best bars in America”

The famous Oyster Bar and Restaurant are located on a lower level and obviously that’s not a secret.  BUT outside of the restaurant there are four columns positioned in a sort of square.  The secret is; If you stand in one corner facing the column and your friend goes to the opposite diagonal corner and you whisper a few words or sentence (and I mean whisper), your friend will clearly hear what you have said.  YES it is amazing but it is true.

"I'm late, I'm late..."

“I’m late, I’m late…”

Photo courtesy of Murray Head

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As the holiday season in New York City revs up to full speed, the most popular post in my blog has been Top Ten Things To Do In New  York City During Christmastime– see previous post: Top Ten Things To Do in New York City during Christmastime.  I’ve been looking around and researching what’s happening around town to see if I have missed anything and don’t you know I did discover something!

Turns out that the Citicorp building in midtown is no longer the home to a fantastic adult and child-pleasing train display.  Very disappointing because this Sunday I planned to take Finley to see this wonderful exhibit.  I’m not sure if and where it has moved.

Here’s my 2012 list of suggestions on ways to celebrate the season in New York City.

New York City’s own LITE-BRITE Tree

  1. THE TREE – STILL the number one tourist attraction this time of year and an event televised nationally – The lighting of the Christmas tree in ROCKEFELLER CENTER  a spectacle to behold and free.  Each year I marvel at this monstrous beauty and each year it looks better than the year before.  Walk around the Center, see the ice skaters, better yet, why not rent a pair and join in the fun! 
  2. GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL:  Millions of people have passed through this temple of transportation, so many trips begin and end here!  Walk though this architectural landmark;  View the heavenly ceiling with its golden astrological symbols.  Visit the Transit Museum and Gift Shop (even if you are “only looking”).  There’s always several vintage train sets on display. The Christmas Fair booths in Vanderbilt Hall are great for unusual and unique gifts and there are many retail outlets throughout the Terminal.  If you arrive after 3pm and are sans kids, you might want to have a late afternoon or evening cocktail at The Campbell Apartment.  It has been restored to its original splendor when it was the private office and salon of the 1920’s tycoon John W. Campbell.
  3. THE NUTCRACKER BALLET – You can catch a performance of THE NUTCRACKER at BAM- BROOKLYN ART MUSEUM performed by The American Ballet Company  Very easy to get there by subway or bus.  This year’s show is dazzling and entertaining.  Suitable for children ages 4 yrs and up. It’s a holiday classic.
  4. RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SHOW – But nothing is more classic than going to RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL and seeing the ROCKETTES perform in the annual RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SHOW.  I have been going since I was little;  My grandmother used to take me and as a young girl, I was overwhelmed by the size of the Music Hall and the sweeping grand staircase.  The show is magical, the Rockettes are truly spectacular.  My favorite routine is the Wooden Soldiers. And you can never get tired of watching in awe how those legs just keep high-kicking!  Children love the show, there are two recent pieces done in 3-D and Santa is the host throughout the show.  

    And down they go one by one

    And down they go one by one

  5. WALKING THE WINDOWS –Walking in Midtown Manhattan during this holiday season is one of the best ways to enjoy Christmastime in New York.  On your way to Rockefeller Center, you should plan a walking route that will take you past some of New York’s premier department stores and their breath-taking window displays. The stores to see (and they are all within walking distance of one another) are: Bloomingdale’s* at 59th St/Lexington Ave., SAKS Fifth Avenue at 49th St., Bergdorf Goodman’s on Fifth Ave/58th St., Barney’s on Madison Ave/61st St.  * Bloomingdale’s is a great place for your kids to visit Santa.  ** Not within walking distance  BUT certainly a New York holiday experience is a trip to Macy’s,  the renowned Christmas store in Miracle on 34th Street.
  6. The UNICEF SNOWFLAKE –Strolling along Fifth Avenue in the evening is a treat in itself.  This is the time when the City lights up!  Look up and follow the Star on Fifth Avenue.  Since 1984, the Snowflake has been a holiday tradition. The snowflake was dedicated to Unicef  by the Sotheby family in 2002.  The original snowflake now hangs high above the Beverly Wilshire on Rodeo Drive.  In 2005, a new Snowflake was created by Ingo Maurer of Germany in collaboration with the Baccarat Crystal company.  The Snowflake has 12 double-sided branches, contains 16,000 crystals, is 23 feet wide and over 28 feet high.  Quite amazing!!  And then there’s CARTIER all wrapped up in a big red bow!

    The Unicef Snowflake

    The Unicef Snowflake

  7. SERENDIPTY 3 – FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE! Seriously now, can you imagine just how delicious that is?? No, you can’t.  So you should give yourself a break from site-seeing and go to Serendipity 3 located at 225 East 60th St.  Frozen Hot   Chocolate is a treat not to be missed.
  8. THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART No trip to New York City regardless of the season is complete without a visit to THE MET.  One of the season’s glories is the BAROQUE CHRISTMAS TREE adorned with hand-crafted  Neapolitan  angels and surrounded with the BEST Nativity scene ever.  Hundreds of figures populate various scenes related to the story of The Nativity.  It is truly beautiful!  Note: The entry fee is “what you wish to pay” (really)!
  9. CHRISTMAS MARKETS – There are Christmas markets throughout the City, not as spectacular as those in Germany but they are here.  Check out Union Square, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park for a wide selection of craft items, art, outerwear and gifts of all sizes for all ages.
  10. NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS – If you think there’s nothing Christmasy to see at The Botanical Gardens, you’re way wrong!  There is a spectacular Holiday Train exhibit there.  You will marvel at the model trains and landmark replicas.  This exhibit is worth the trip to the Bronx and you can get there by subway and bus.  
    The Holiday Train Exhibit Botanical Gardens

    The Holiday Train Exhibit
    Botanical Gardens

    11. BONUS: GINGERBREAD ADVENTURES – Children explore the spices that make up a classic gingerbread recipe. Kids can step inside a child-sized gingerbread playhouse and also decorate a gingersnap cookie with frosting and candies. All ages will enjoy viewing a display of gingerbread houses made by New York City-area bakers.

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Peter Coddles, wooden frog

Doesn’t everyone have a wooden frog sitting on a vintage Peter Coddles game in their dining room?

Last week, it was recipes for Thanksgiving dinner dishes, this week it’s photos.

My last post was about Peter’s collection of vintage Peter Coddles games. Those 7 are just the tip of the iceberg!  Murray took those photos and while he and Peter were setting up the shots, Murray wandered around and snapped a few random pictures here and there as something caught his eye.  We have stuff, no doubt about it.  Only one photo is of a collection and I’m sure you’ll be able to pick it out (and I’ll give you a hint anyway).

living room

A window sill in my living room. Plants, African art, carved figures, vintage lamps, sand dollars, stained glass, an antique kaleidoscope, vintage bottles and paperweights, and….

Chair monkeys-IF they had hats they could live on the bed

dopey, the seven dwarfs

My own personal Dopey collection. Aren’t they cute? Peter stuck Bashful or Happy in there to keep Dopey company.

Alessi, toothpick holder,

I love Alessi! This cute rabbit is a toothpick holder.

building blocks, nostalgia, Bill Ding clowns

Mini Bill Ding and his clowns stand guard on a dining room window sill. Along with a several other things!

Well that was just a peek into the collective madness of the collections that reside in our New York apartment.  Here are few random photos taken by Murray as he was wandering around Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal and vicinity.

Bryant Park, Christmas booths, Christmas fair

It’s easy to shop for your pets in one of the City’s Christmas Fairs.

Grand Central Terminal Food Market-Murray’s Cheese Shop

Sephora cosmetics, midtown

Sephora Cosmetic Store

animal hats, Bryant Park Christmas fairs, childrens hats

Grgghhhh – Animal hats for sale in Bryant Park

Christmas ornaments, Christmas fair, Bryant Park

Christmas ornaments for sale in Bryant Park


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September 11, 2001,the day the world stopped turning, the day life changed as we knew it.  WHERE WERE YOU?   We remember where we were, who we were with and what we were doing on those days during our lives  that mark an unforgettable event.

September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001 (Photo credit: wallyg)

If you are a baby boomer like me, then you remember that infamous day, November 22, 1963.  I was in high school and an announcement came over the PA system informing us  that President Kennedy had been shot and school was dismissed so we could all go home and be with our families.

Our parents could probably tell us just where they were on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th 1941 and VJ Day!  Life-altering events are etched in our minds and hearts.

July 21, 1969, “The Eagle Has Landed “-Neil Armstrong walks on the lunar surface. The United States has put a man on the moon.   I was at a lake in Connecticut with my   first husband.  We were visiting a friend of the family, it was a beautiful summer day and I remember the thrill of hearing that news!  Oh boy, it was great to be an American that day!

Some of us even remember where we were the day  John Lennon  was shot. December 8, 1980.  It wasn’t life-altering for me but it certainly was meaningful.

And that brings us to September 11, 2001 – This is my generation’s “A date which will live in infamy”.  Where were you that beautiful September Tuesday?  A day with the clearest of clear blue skies, all the better to see the planes as they careened into our Towers.  It was Primary Day in New York City, a day of  political aspirations and apparently also one of sinister aspirations. 

I was with my husband, Peter and we had just voted in the Primary and as we left the polling place, we stopped to greet one of the candidates standing outside.  As we stood with him, a man rushed up to him and asked if he had heard about the plane that crashed into Grand Central Terminal?  We looked at each other in bewilderment and remarked to each other how could a plane crash into the GCT considering it sits in the middle of some very tall buildings – a plane would have to drop out of the sky straight down.

We got as far as the corner of our street and just then a crosstown bus pulled up so I quickly kissed him goodbye and hopped on the bus to go to work.  I normally took the crosstown bus as far as Lexington Avenue where I would board the Number 6 subway train to 59th Street.  The bus hadn’t even gone one block when it was obvious something was wrong.  Many of the passengers were on cell phones and exclamations of “What?” were heard all around.  One woman was on the phone with her mother who was watching a special report on TV.  This woman began to repeat what she was being told. OMG!  I called Peter immediately and said put the TV on.  The bus got to Lexington Avenue and I decided not to get off.  What I had heard and the smoke that I could see as we reached Lexington Avenue, convinced me that going underground was not a good idea.

I got off at Fifth Avenue, chaos and confusion was rampant. Where were the buses?  My cell phone isn’t working – what should I do?  Should I go to the office and if so, how?  Should I go home?  Panic, terror and desperation brings strangers together and so I got in a cab with 2 other women who were heading south.  We were tense, we looked at our cab driver, he wasn’t an American…

The office was in the cold clutches of uncertainty, misinformation and frustration.  What the hell were we doing here?  The TV wouldn’t work, who had a radio? Even the computers were not giving us any much-needed information.  After less than 2 hours I announced I was going home and advised everyone else to do so.

I walked out onto Madison Avenue into a sea of moving humanity.  The streets were filled with people moving northward in around whatever vehicles were on the road clogged in total gridlock.  I found a pay phone and called home to say I was on my way on foot.  I stopped at a bodega with an ATM machine and to this day I don’t know what inspired me to do so but was so glad I did.  I had a premonition that everything was going to be frozen.  I wasn’t far from wrong as shortly thereafter, Manhattan went into virtual lockdown.  You couldn’t get on the island and you couldn’t really get out so easily.  We didn’t want to leave, we ended up glued to the television for the rest of the day and night.  We fielded calls from friends around the country who wanted to make sure we were safe.

My friend Gail didn’t want to be alone, so she came over.  Every television in the apartment was on tuned to different stations.  My cousin Christine wanted to be with us, so she came over. Nobody was leaving, we clung to each other while crying and wailing the same montra over and over again, “Oh my God”.  

Helen called me and suggested we walk to Lenox Hill Hospital and give blood.  So I left with her filed with good intentions only to be turned away – No blood needed – No survivors!

I went back home in shock.  My daughter was living on East 27th Street and she was ensconced safely in her apartment.  Her aunt and cousin joined her to spend the night.  There is such comfort in sharing with those you care about and love, whether it be some joyful news or some tragedy.

That’s how I spent September 11, 2001, I will never forget it.  Where were you?  Let us know.

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Talk about air time, yesterday was the Mayor Mike/Guv Christie show all day long!! Mike Bloomberg was determined that New York City under his watch would be prepared for the impending disaster.  By and large, most New Yorkers followed his lead.  Murray took the photos of Grand Central Terminal just before it was shut down (nobody’s leavin’ this town) – https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/high-noon-in-new-york-city-irene-is-on-her-way/ and some other pre-Irene photos.  Today he went out and captured some great photos of Irene’s aftermath.  Here they are for your pleasure.

new york city, hurricane Irene

Cut the Red Tape, Use the Blue

new york city

Armed and Ready for Action

hurricane Irene, Apple store

We ARE Open 24/7

apple store new york city

Except When Irene's in Town

hurricane Irene

Park Avenue

A Fly Amid the Rain Drops

Some diid not survive the storm

new york city

The Mayor said "Stay Home"

purple flower

Fragile BUT A Survivor

Storm Sewer Detritus

hurricane Irene

Whew! What A Storm!

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So that was Friday in Ocean Grove and now it’s Saturday and I have some interesting photos from Grand Central Terminal.  Murray got to GCT just before it was closed down by Mayor Bloomberg.  Official close time was to be 12:20pm today.  If you are at all familiar with Grand Central Terminal, you know the only time you ever see it empty is on a post card!  Take a look at what Irene has done to our City, (and she’s not even here yet).

Hurricane Irene, Grand Central Terminal,

High Noon in GCT

Grand Central Terminal, Hurricane Irene

Time To Get Out Of Town

metro north, Grand Central Terminal, Hurricane Irene

Metro North Comes To A Halt

Grand Central Terminal, hurricane Irene

All Alone Am I

All photos by Murray Head


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New York City is fun at any time of the year (but you already knew that) – However at Christmastime there is an energy that vibrates through the month of December.  Well actually  I think it starts at Thanksgiving.  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade marks the beginning of the Holiday Season here in Manhattan; Heralding the season from Herald Square!  So now it has begun and the streets are really crowded with shoppers carrying the colorful store brand  bags.  Workers that usually eat at their desks are dashing out to shop during lunch hours, tourists are everywhere in Midtown and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures. And why are they all here? Because New York City is a great place to be at this time of year.

You can:

  1. Visit Rockefeller Center and see the magnificent tree and watch the ice skaters too.
  2. Drop by Grand Central Terminal to see the Holiday Light Show that is beamed on the recently re-stored ceiling.  And you can shop there too – besides the stores there is also a Christmas marketplace.
  3. Attend a performance of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, it’s a holiday classic.
  4. But nothing is more classic than going to Radio City Music Hall and seeing the Rockettes! The Christmas Spectacular is a lovely wonderful tradition.  I ought to know because my grandmother used to take me when I was young, then I took Chiara during her childhood and this year Finley Ray went.  She is still a bit young for the Rockettes but the effects, the lights, and of course Santa Claus were not lost on her.
  5. Walk along Fifth Avenue and window shop or rather window-look at the dramatic and fantastic holiday window displays at Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks and Barney’s.
  6. Stroll along Fifth Avenue in the evening and see the giant snowflake suspended above your head like a star.  And then walk past Cartier’s where the whole building is wrapped with a red ribbon and bow.
  7. Visit the Metropolitan Museum and behold the most beautiful Baroque Neapolitan Christmas tree.  The manger scene surrounds the base and is just magnificent.
  8. Take a break at Serendipity’s and drinks some Frozen Hot Chocolate.
  9. There are Christmas markets throughout the City, not as spectacular as those in Germany but they are here.  Check out Union Square, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park for a wide selection of craft items, art, outerwear and gifts of all sizes for all ages.
  10. In the lower level of the Citicorp Building, there is annual free model train display that you will marvel at several vintage sets run all through a staged country and city setting.  The Transit Museum also displays vintage trains in their shop in Grand Central Terminal.

BONUS IDEA – Buy some hot roasted chestnuts from a street vendor that’s New York!

*** There’s an UPDATED 2012 list available  at Top Ten Things To Do In New York City During Christmastime UPDATED!

Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center

Bright Lights-City Lights

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