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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Touring Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central is one of those places, that even though it is one of the most amazing places in the world, as well as the world's largest train station, most of the people that enter it everyday don't appreciate it.  I have been to Grand Central many times for many different reasons, but didn't feel I really knew much about it, so I decided to do a tour.  The tours are held daily and are $20 and about 75 minutes long.  Jordan, our guide was very informative and I did end up learning some interesting facts about the history and present day use of the building.  I was hoping to be able to check out some of the areas in the building that are off limits to normal people, but due to security measures this is not possible, which is totally understandable.  

Grand Central with the Chrysler Building behind it.  One of my favorite views in the city.  

The statue on top of the main entrance to the station is Hercules, Minerva and Mercury.  It was finished in 1914 and is 48 feet high.  The clock consists of the world's largest example of Tiffany glass.  You can actually go up in the clock and the IV is a window that you can look out onto the street from.  I'm not really sure how you get to do this but I would love to!  

The Chrysler Building just because I love it.

Pershing Square right out front of the station.  

The Main Concourse.  Where you buy your tickets and check the schedules.  750000 people pass through here everyday between the commuters and tourists.

The stairs up to what is now the Apple Store.

The ceiling of the Main Concourse is painted in 23 (yes 23) carat gold.  It is a map of the constellations that is painted backwards.  The reason for this seems to be disputed.  Some people say it is painted from God's view, some people say that the painters read the blueprint backward.  If you can notice in the photo above the Pisces fishes is a black spot.  In 1957 in response to fears of the the Soviet Sputnik being launched, the American Redstone Missile was set up in the Main Concourse and a hole had to be cut in the ceiling to keep it in place.

The stairs up to the Campbell Apartment bar (featured in Mad Men).

One of the shoe shine booths down by the tracks.

One of the original lights from the first Grand Central now used as more of decoration.  It is over 100 years old.

There are 44 platforms and currently 67 tracks running into and out of the Terminal.

The original clock and board that was updated every few minutes by hand.

More original light figures.  All of the light builds in the terminal are bare because of the Vanderbilts who build the building wanted to brag that the entire station had electricity (it was 1913).  Another fun fact is that President Herbert Hoover flipped a switch in Washington DC that turned on the electricity here for the grand opening in 1913.

In the photo below you will see a black brick at the very start of the line that runs through the crab.  This is the color that the entire ceiling was from mostly tobacco and nicotine smoke from years of smokers walking through the concourse.  A 12 year restoration project that was completed in 1996 restored the ceiling to its original beauty and the single patch was left to show people what it looked like before the restoration.

The clock on the information booth is quite famous.  Most people think that it is made of Opal and worth between 10 and 20 million dollars.  This is not true.  It is actually made of brass and opalescent glass  and while it is famous, it is not worth anywhere near that much and the glass has had to be replaced over the years.

Old school elevators that I just think are cool.

The path down to the lower concourse with the most of the restaurants and stores including the Oyster Bar which has been in the Terminal since it opened.

This is the famous "Whispering Room" outside of the Oyster Bar.  The tiles and shape of the room create strange acoustics that allow you to whisper on one side and have people on the other side be able to hear you as clear as if you were talking face to face.

Another information booth in the lower concourse surrounded by restaurants.

Like I said I didn't get to learn all the secrets of Grand Central Terminal, and didn't get to go down to the very bottom basement 12 stories underground filled with a power station and the inner runnings of the station, but it was great to learn about a bit of history and really stop to enjoy the amazing beauty of one of New York's most iconic landmarks.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fab Friday Faves 6.19.15

Hello Friday!  I don't really have much exciting to say this week...  I have a sick cat, so I have been doting on him and until yesterday (when I went to the New Whitney Museum) had only left the apartment for an hour at a time.  Since Saturday.  So not me!  Josh actually ended up not being able to come back from Mass until Monday so I had to make the emergency middle of the night vet trip by myself in an Uber!  Too fun.  It's times like this when I wish I had some here that I could just call to come over to help me and to keep me company.   I also have been pretty stressed and tired and not feeling well so even though I had the opportunity to catch up on some blogging and other stuff, I really didn't.  You know when you just get in a funk?  Hopefully this week coming up is better, and I hope you all have a great one too! 

 1.  I found this great place called Smith and Chang when I was out for a (pre-emergency vet trip) walk Saturday afternoon.  There was a great Flea Market/festival in Hamilton Park, right behind the mall and on my way over I stumbled on this gem.  It is the cutest place, set up like a vintage General Store with local products, trinkets and antiques for sale.  They serve all the coffees of a normal coffee shop plus Jersey city made pastries and desserts.  They also have a super friendly staff and clientele which is hard to find here.  Amazing!  I actually went back on Wednesday as well, just to get out.

2.  Josh sent me this adorable flower arrangement before he got back on Monday.  He knew I needed something to cheer me up and it worked and made me smile.

3.  I love a lobster roll more than any food on the planet.  Well lobster in general really!  Monday was National Lobster Roll Day so when Josh got home we walked over to the new Luke's Lobster location in Hoboken to celebrate.  Delicious!

4. Wednesday was Birchbox day, one of my favorite days of the month.  I was lucky enough to get products from some of my favorite brands in the world but nothing I had tried before!

5. I had been eyeing up Steve's Ice Cream for months now at our local grocery store, and with our time here coming to an end I thought I better finally give it a try.  I don't actually LOVE hard ice cream, so I got a flavor I knew that Josh would like and eat, but he is lucky he got any haha.  So good!  The ice cream is made in Brooklyn by a small local company which I love.  Their flavors include Cold Brewed Cinnamon Coffee, Coconut Key Lime, Southern Banana Pudding and many others.  If you see this in a store, or if you are over in Brooklyn and see their store, be sure to give it a try!

Today I'm Linking Up with:

Tif @ Bright On A Budget
Clare@ Fitting It All In
Nicole@ Adventures of a Wild Sunflower
Amy @ {The Farmer's Wife}
April @ A. Liz Adventures
Lauren @ Style Elixir

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Beautiful Woolworth Building

When you think of Woolworth, you probably thing of the discount Walmart type store that you shopped back in the day.  It was the man that started this chain that had the world's tallest building built in 1913.  Frank Woolworth was a rather eccentric man, as was the architect a man by the name of Cass Gilbert.  The building is in Neo-Gothic style, and really has no rhyme nor reason to the design.  It is whimsical and beautiful, almost like it was designed to be like a fantasy world, which from what I understand it sort of was.  At 792 feet the Woolworth Building was the world's tallest building from its completion in 1913 until 1930 when 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were completed. It is still one of the 20 tallest buildings in NYC.  The building has been home to many companies over the years, including the Colombia Records Headquarters, Irving National Bank and Footlocker Headquarters. Both Tesla and Marconi were also tenants at one time.   Today it is mostly just some office buildings and also holds a courthouse.  The top 30 floors were purchased a few years ago and are being converted into luxury condos.  The Penthouse which will be the top eight floors of the building will be listed at 110 million dollars, the highest asking price for a apartment in downtown Manhattan ever.  

Since 9/11 the building has not been open to the public at all except for small tours weekly.  I was lucky enough to be able to go on one of these tours a couple weeks ago with a historian that has been hired by the current owner, the Witkoff Group, to study the history of the building.  

A few pictures of the gorgeous exterior:

You can really see the top eight floors that will be the 110 million dollar penthouse:

Walking into this grand lobby is quite amazing.  The ceiling is made from millions of tiny tiles forming birds, and many different patterns.  The walls are marble and granite from all over the world, including Vermont and Greece:

It is not known who all of the carved figures of the men are, but they are all dressed in Monks clothing, some with over exaggerated muscles and body parts.  One of the heads, I believe this one, is  Wilbur Pearson, an engineer:

Frank Woolworth, cradling nickels and dimes:

Cass Gilbert, holding the building:

Daniel Moran:

The Mural "Labor and Commerce" on the second floor of the lobby:

Demon like Gothic sculptures:

View of the back of the lobby and staircase to the second floor.

These smaller colored sculptures are thought to be caricatures of some of the workers that helped build the lobby.

Close up of the intricate tile mosaics in the lobby:

Entrance to the subway stop that was once here and has since been closed and filled in as well as to the Turkish bath that used to be here.

Subway entrance, now filled in and the room is used for the bikes of people that work here:

The vault doors that were used by Irving National Bank:

All of the elevators in the building are made of bronze and were designed by Tiffany:

Original Brass mailboxes:

The building has been a national landmark since 1966 and a NYC landmark since 1983.

The building has a rather sordid past because of the eccentricities of Woolworth and his family.  After Frank died, his niece and famous socialite drug addict Barbara Hutton inherited all billions of dollars and when she died had 3000 dollars left.  Luckily the building was a landmark or it would have been given to her as well and most likely sold for no where near what it was worth.

Watch for the building in movies such as Cloverfield and Enchanted as well as Ugly Betty and even in Grand Theft Auto IV.

It is a really cool building to check out but it is not the easiest to get in to see it.  I really would love to go up and see that 110 million dollar condo someday!