Grand Central Depot

Grand Central Depot

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The Grand Central Depot, circa 1890.

Grand Central Depot was the first train terminal built on the site at 42nd and Park, built over four decades before the current building. The train yard – occupied by three railroad companies; the NY Central and Hudson River Railroad, the NY, New Haven, and New Hartford Railroad, and the Harlem Railroad – was the largest interior space in the country, with a vaulted roof made of iron and glass.  

When it opened in 1871 Grand Central Depot had 170 trains traveling in and out each day. But by the 1890s the city and the railroad industry had outgrown the Depot – 500 trains were using the terminal daily. Additionally, the poor ventilation and the dangerous grade crossings made the need for a new station urgent. After a deadly train crash in 1902 in the Park Avenue Tunnel, The New York Central's chief engineer William J. Wilgus announced a request for proposals to improve the tunnel and terminal. Wilgus envisioned demolishing the current station and building a double level terminal for electric trains only. Grand Central Terminal would open 11 years later and today is the largest* train terminal in the world.

*Largest by number of tracks.

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