Grand Central Terminal is named a national historical civil engineering landmark

GCT joins the Erie Canal and Hoover Dam on the American Society of Civil engineers' list of civil engineering landmarks.

The Terminal has long been recognized as an architectural landmark. It also is a triumph in civil engineering—a fact that goes unnoticed because much of the engineering work that went into the design and construction of the Terminal is hidden from public view.

ASCE Shield image

ASCE President Andrew W. Herrmann noted that Grand Central Terminal joins other American engineering marvels such as the Washington Monument and the Erie Canal, as well as the Brooklyn, George Washington and Golden Gate Bridges.

The endlessly adaptable Terminal functions as well today as it did the day it opened.

"It has metamorphosed from the grand gateway to the continent to the bustling center of New York City, from long-distance train station to regional nexus linking the northern suburbs to Manhattan," said Howard Permut, President of Metro-North Railroad, which oversees, maintains, and manages Grand Central.

The Terminal handles more trains each day than ever before and its retail component is more vibrant and varied than ever, drawing local and international visitors.

Grand Central Terminal image

ASCE cited the Terminal's unique features and characteristics as reasons for its landmark designation:

  • Pioneering the concept of selling "air rights," with the construction of revenue-producing buildings over the train yards that opened 30 blocks of Manhattan to development, and offset the project's enormous construction cost.
  • A design that eliminated crowding problems common in other railway stations by separating departing long-distance and commuter passengers on two levels, and creating an incoming area for arriving passengers, now called the Biltmore Room. The system still works, as the Terminal accommodates 750,000 visitors daily and more than 750 incoming and departing trains.
  • GCT was the first train station to use ramps on a large scale as a means to accommodate the efficient movement of passengers between levels. High level platforms were built so that stairs were not needed to board trains.
  • The Terminal was built on the site of an existing station that remained in use during ten years of construction. Engineers maintained train service at the time without any changes or cancellations.
  • GCT was built vertically, not horizontally, with a massive excavation effort that involved blasting down 50 feet and removing 2.8 million cubic yards of rock and dirt.
  • The Terminal's upper- and lower-level track layouts included loop tracks and storage yards to increase its capacity. Hidden underground, loop tracks allowed trains to turn around quickly after dropping off passengers; the yard facilities and track layout more than tripled the capacity of the old station.
  • Construction included what was then the nation's longest amount of mainline railroad electrification: 33 miles north on the Hudson Line to Croton-on-Hudson and 23 miles north on the Harlem Line to North White Plains. The Terminal also had the country's only all-electric signal system.