This past Friday marked the official 100th anniversary of the opening of New York’s famous Grand Central Terminal. The monumental station will be holding events and honoring its history all year long and Lionel has been thrilled to be part of the story.
Grand Central Terminal
New York’s first station came with its first railroad, the New York and Harlem. As additional railroads came into Manhattan, each built their own respective passenger and freight terminals.
As the rail network and city grew, so did the congestion. And while the steam locomotives carried passengers into the city, they also brought noise and smoke. By 1858, steam locomotives were banned from lower Manhattan.
Consolidation of the City’s stations began with the same man who built his rail empire through multiple consolidations. Commodore Vanderbilt ordered the construction of the first Grand Central. The building was completed in 1871 at a cost of $6.4 million. That would be over $118 million today.
Continued growth and a tragic accident in 1902 proved the need for an even larger facility and electric train service. Plans for a new Grand Central Terminal were announced in 1903. It took ten years and $80 million to complete the building, with train platforms on two levels below ground and the largest concourse the city, or the world, had ever seen.
Grand Central was still not the only grand station in town. The rival Pennsylvania Railroad built their own immense terminal in the city as well. While Pennsylvania Station survives as the primary New York terminal for Amtrak’s long-distance trains, all traces of the facade inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla are buried beneath today’s Madison Square Garden. (Ironically, the site of New York’s first Madison Square Garden was the abandoned New York and Harlem station!)
The raising of Penn Station created such an outcry that the city (and many others across the country) passed new preservation laws and gave Grand Central a protected status. After long attempts to fight plans by Penn Central to build a new skyscraper on top of the existing structure, the historic building was finally “safe” in 1976. Although it had escaped these corporate attacks, the effects of decades of deferred maintenance, pollution and hard use had taken their toll.
In 1988, Metro North began a massive project to restore the building to its original glory. The restoration took 10 years (as long as the original construction) and cost $425 million. Today the station still hosts passenger a year, and millions more come to enjoy its restaurants, shops and markets – or just to enjoy the station itself. You can learn more about the history and upcoming anniversary on the Terminal’s website.
In addition to our operating layout (it’s your last week to see it!) and a participation in a new exhibit opened just last week, Lionel’s new Grand Central Express Set lets you bring some of the excitement home to your layout.
Grand Central Express Set
While many railroads have called Grand Central home, none are more closely associated with its history than the New York Central. So it is only fitting that our Grand Central Express set includes an FT diesel and three passenger cars in the NYC’s classy two-tone gray scheme.
The train is powered by a New York Central FT diesel, decorated with the famous “Lightning Stripe” scheme and equipped with our RailSounds RTR. The locomotive also features:
- Transformer controlled forward, neutral, and reverse operation
- RailSounds RTR sound system with diesel revving, horn, bell, and user-activated crew dialog scenarios
- Operating headlights
- Operating coupler on both ends
- Traction tires
- Dual powerful maintenance-free motors
- Die-cast metal trucks, pilot, fuel tank
- Metal frame
- Lighted cab interior
- Engineer and conductor figures
Trailing behind are three passenger cars, two coaches and an observation. Each car features:
- Die-cast metal trucks and operating couplers
- Detailed and lighted interiors
- Flexible diaphragms between cars
- Opening doors
- Each car in set is individually boxed
The set also includes a CW-80 power pack and a 60″ x 40″ oval of FasTrack. A two-car expansion set (6-35247), featuring a baggage and dining car, is also available to add on to your consist. The expansion set retails for $139.99.
This train is available now at a dealer near you! The set retails for $439.99. And don’t miss your chance to visit Grand Central during this historic year, it’s a trip you will never forget.