Card no. 23 - photos
This mostly indoor walk through New York's Grand Central Station conjures the city's romantic past and its gift for continual reinvention.
Begin at Lexington Avenue and East 42nd Street (M104 or M42 bus to 42nd Street and Park Avenue, or 4, 5, 6 or 7 train to Grand Central Station).
Anyone longing to play New Yorker for a day could do worse than to turn up at Grand Central Station some steamy summer weekday morning dressed in a suit and girded for battle with briefcase and rolled-up Wall Street Journal. Completed in 1913, the monumental depot remains one of the world's greatest interior spaces. The breathtaking main concourse, modeled in part on the Roman baths, is 470 feet long, 160 feet wide, and 150 feet high; across its vaulted blue ceiling are painted constellations of the winter night sky. The concourse has probably seen more foot traffic than any public space in the city. At its peak, when the Twentieth-Century Limited took off for Chicago every afternoon, the station's upper level was reserved mostly for long-distance travelers, and commuters descended to the lower level to catch the 5:25 home (see the stories of John Cheever). Now it is mainly a commuter station, but one outfitted with an abundance of shops, newsstands, and restaurants. Climb the stairs at either end of the main concourse to shop; descend to the lower level to choose among a half dozen informal food court stations or a lobster pan roast at the legendary Oyster Bar. Leave the station by way of Grand Central Market, a miniature Les Halles that will deposit you on Lexington Avenue, ready for Walk 24.
From City Walks: New York: 50 Adventures on Foot by Martha Fay