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Case Studies 

Grand Central Terminal

New York City



Contributed by 
Project for Public Spaces
January 7, 2002
December 14, 2017

One of the most well known and impressive indoor public spaces in the country, Grand Central Terminal provides an unparalleled experience to over half a million people every day.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

The station is accessed by 14 entrances, including grand staircases to the west and east, and a sloping passage way on the south. A vaulted ceiling soars 130 feet above the 40,000-square-foot main concourse, which is constantly flowing with people. Their movement is only interrupted by the famous four-faced clock and information booth in the center, often used as a meeting point. The southern facade features another clock with a massive 13-foot diameter, and a statue group by Jules-Felix Coutan, collectively called Transportation. Numerous shops line the corridors, and flanking balconies provide an excellent site from which to view the bustling - yet remarkably hushed - scene. Free tours are provided.

Access & Linkages

Comfort & Image

Uses & Activities


How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

The first building on the site was the Grand Central Depot, completed in 1871. In 1913, it was replaced by the Grand Central Terminal, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece that upgraded the depot with a two-level terminal and third-rail electrification. The $43 million cost was offset by the sale of "air-rights" above the enclosed facility. Penn Central Corporation proposed an office tower to be built over the building in 1968, prompting a public outcry that eventually led to the declaration of Grand Central as a historic landmark.

In 1996, the Metropolitan Transit Authority restoration master plan was approved by the Landmarks Commission. The impressive ceiling of the Main Concourse, with its large constellations mural, was cleaned and restored; the lower concourse restored and converted into a food court; and a second staircase on the east end of the concourse was built to match the one at the west end.

Related Links & Sources

Grand Central Terminal
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Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Market
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Grand Central Terminal

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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