Two weeks ago I mentioned the wreck in the Park Avenue Tunnel in 1902, and how it led to electric service on the rails. Another thing the accident achieved was the replacement of the old Grand Central Depot. The old Depot at the time was serving a lot more trains than it could really handle. Trains often had to wait in order to enter the train shed. The one train involved in the wreck was waiting in the tunnel, when the train behind missed several signals and ended up crashing into it. The new Grand Central Terminal, with its two levels, was able to accommodate a lot more trains than its predecessor.

Construction on the Terminal was finished in 1913. And what does one want to do after spending $180,000,000 on a gorgeous new train station? Show it off to the world, of course! Recently I’ve had a lot of enjoyment looking at old newspapers. Although photography existed at the time, many newspapers still used engraved illustrations. And I really do love looking at these old illustrations of Grand Central.

All of those come from full advertisements shown in newspapers, like the one below:

One thing I thought amusing about the new Grand Central, was that when it opened, it had a private “Women’s Room.” And I don’t mean a bathroom. For twenty-five cents a woman could use a private dressing room, staffed by maids, to change her “costume” for a “social function.” They would even deliver her trunk straight to the dressing room! How grand! And let’s not forget that there were also hair and manicuring parlors, as well as a shoe polishing room. You know what I wonder though, was the line for that “Women’s room” out the door and around the corner like the lines today? Sometimes they really make you want to shoot yourself…

If you’re interested in seeing more old drawings and advertisements of Grand Central’s opening, click here to take a look through the Historical Archives.

3 Responses

  1. Sheryl says:

    It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Grand Central – that was GREAT! (and I have a secret GCT bathroom I’ll tell you about for those insane occasions like I encountered on St Patrick’s Day. I don’t want the world to know, so I won’t mention it here…)

  2. Carl says:

    I believe the wreck in the tunnel came after the building of the new GCT. Steam locomotive operation in the tunnels left them foggy and severely restricted visibility. That was the final straw for the city and an ordinance was passed requiring electrification. The old depot was an extremely busy place and one of the compelling reasons for replacement was the method of terminating trains there. Steam locomotives were not allowed under the shed so occupied passenger trains were dropped into the station platforms. Dropping is where the locomotive is cut off at speed and moved to a side track while the cars behind continue to coast into the station. The brakemen then applied hand brakes to bring them to a stop at the platforms.

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