“When its doors opened at midnight on Feb. 2, 1913, more than 150,000 people flocked to Grand Central Terminal to marvel at the kind of opulence and grandeur usually reserved for grand European palaces or opera houses.

“Grand marble staircases, the opal-faced, four-sided clock, sloping ramps to the lower level and the jaw-dropping gold-leafed fresco of the Mediterranean night sky soaring across the vaulted 125-foot ceiling.”

Breathless introduction courtesy of Westport News.

"Transportation", Grand Central Terminal, New York City -- Charles Leon Thompson

“Transportation”, Grand Central Terminal, New York City — Charles Leon Thompson

I don’t know how many times I’ve been in and out of Grand Central (not many in the last 20 years), but this time I’m noticing Transportation, the 1,500 ton sculptural group on the terminal’s 42nd St. facade.

It depicts Mercury flanked by Hercules and Minerva and was designed by French sculptor Jules-Alexis Coutan. At 48 feet high, Transportation was considered to be the largest sculptural group in the world (at the time of its unveiling in 1914). The Tiffany glass clock in the center has a circumference of 13 feet. Minerva’s head weighed fourteen tons; Mercury’s headpiece around ten tons. The weight of Hercules’ head is unknown.


The architectural composition consists of three great portals crowned by a sculptural group, the whole to stand as a monument to the glory of commerce as typified by Mercury, supported by moral and mental energy – Hercules and Minerva. All to attest that this great enterprise has grown and exists not merely from the wealth expended, nor by the revenue derived, but by the brain and brawn constantly concentrated upon its development for nearly a century. —  Whitney Warren, GCT architect.

 The Coolest Place in Grand Central: The Clock Tower


NOTE: Grand Central Terminal celebrated it’s centennial birthday yesterday, exactly 100 years after the keys were first given to the stationmaster.