NYC: Grand Central Terminal and the Met Life Building

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NYC: Grand Central Terminal and the Met Life Building
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Grand Central Terminal (GCT) is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms: 44, with 67 tracks along them. They are on two underground levels, with 41 tracks on the upper level and 26 on the lower. It serves commuters traveling on the Metro-North Railroad to Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York State, and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. Although it has been properly called "Grand Central Terminal" for a century, many people continue to refer to it as "Grand Central Station". Technically, that is the name of the nearby post office, as well as the name of a previous rail station on the site. Outside the station, the clock in front of the Grand Central facade facing 42nd Street contains the world’s largest example of Tiffany glass and is surrounded by sculptures carved by the John Donnelly Company of Minerva, Hercules and Mercury. For the terminal building French sculptor Jules-Alexis Coutain created what was at the time of its unveiling (1914) considered to be the largest sculptural group in the world. It was 48 feet (14.6 m) high, the clock in the center having a circumference of 13 feet (4 m).

The MetLife Building, originally known as the Pan Am Building, at 200 Park Avenue, was the largest commercial office building in the world when it first opened in 1963 as the headquarters for Pan American World Airways. The 808-foot tall, 58-floor, Brutalist, International-style skyscraper was desinged by Emery Roth & Sons with the assistance of Walter Gropius and Pietro Belluschi. In 1981, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company purchased the building from Pan Am. When Pan Am ceased operations in 1991, MetLife replaced the iconomic Pan Am logos with its own, renaming the building the MetLife Building. In 2005, MetLife sold the building for .72 billion, the highest recorded price for an office building in the United States, to a joint venture of Tishman Speyer Properties, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, and the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System.

The MetLife Building was famous for its helicopter service to JFK International Airport, a seven-minute flight that left from the rooftop helipad that was offered only between 1965 and 1968 and for a few months in 1977. Service ended permanently after a May 16, 1977 accident when a broken landing gear caused a parked Sikorsky S-61L with rotors still turning to tip over, killing four people who were outside the helicopter waiting to board, including exploitation filmmaker Michael Findlay. Part of a rotor blade sailed over the side of the building and killed a pedestrian on the corner of Madison and 43rd street. Two others were seriously injured. Another notorious moment in the building’s history was Eli M. Black’s spectacular suicide on February 3, 1975. The CEO of United Brands Company, now Chiquita Brands International, used his briefcase to shatter an external window and then jumped out of the 44th floor window to his death on Park Avenue. The building’s most famous "residents" are a pair of Peregrine Falcons nicknamed Lois and Clark who nest there and dine on the pigeons.

In 2007, Grand Central Station was ranked #13 on the AIA 150 America’s Favorite Architecture list.

Grand Central Terminal National Regsiter #75001206

For more details on the Grand Central Terminal Main Concourse, see this picture.

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