Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America

Sam Roberts, Author, Pete Hamill, Foreword by
Sam Roberts. Grand Central, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4555-2596-6
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4555-2595-9
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Roberts delivers the story of one of the most famous transportation hubs in the world and how it shaped Midtown Manhattan into the bustling, thriving center of commerce and entertainment it is today. This is also a history of railroads in New York, from horse-pulled streetcars, to steam engines, to the electric trains brought to the city by Grand Central's chief engineer William Wilgus. Credited with being the first person to monetize "air rights", Wilgus conceived of Grand Central as a 12 story building with the terminal below and 2.3 million square feet above to be rented out to businesses. Roberts, the New York Times's Metro Matters columnist, covers the details of the construction of Grand Central as well as its massive renovation in the 1990's. He describes the massive changes in Midtown area after its initial construction, including the arrival of luxury hotels and office towers. "With Grand Central acting as an anchor," he writes, "Park Avenue was elevated into New York's most prestigious address." A wonderful volume for New York City history buffs or railroad aficionados, Roberts closes with discussions of some of the terminal's quirks and mysteries like the ubiquitous decorative acorns, the secret staircase, and various secret underground locations. (Feb.)
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