An Ancient Artifact

View of Grand Central terminal under construction

This is normal picture of Grand Central Terminal under construction, except that the glass-plate negative was damaged, giving the photo the appearance of something dug up by an archaeologist. The Detroit Publishing Company titled this “Central station, New York, N.Y.” which is a bit odd. The predecessor stations on the site were Grand Central Depot and Grand Central Station, so I’d have thought that the “grand” was a given. The Library of Congress lists this as being created between 1900 and 1915, but it can be narrowed far more than that.

The terminal was completed in 1913 and work on the new headhouse began after 1907. The heavily-travelled street in the foreground is 42nd Street, the narrow street to the left of the terminal is Vanderbilt Avenue. The partially-excavated vacant lot across the street from Grand Central, at the northwest corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt, had a new building by 1910 or so, so this photo seems to have been taken at the end of the aughts. (That vacant lot is tomorrow’s topic.)

Grand Central, for all of its vaguely-Roman-styled limestone, is a steel-frame building. As such, it was relatively easy to construct in in phases, and it was built in strips, as was the building over the new train shed (the plainer-looking structure immediately to the left of the headhouse) and the new double-level train yard to the north of the shed. The fact that we’re looking at a seemingly-complete building on the west side of the complex does not mean that construction on the east side was as far long.

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