As I said in my last post, I love New York secrets. Whether it be a hidden away speak easy bar or an abandoned.. well anything, it fascinates me. There are so many secrets and hidden worlds that never see the light of day. This weekend I compiled a list and went exploring.
City Hall Subway
First on the list – the abandoned City Hall subway stop. This had popped up in a few articles that I had read and I immediately knew I had to see it. Back when it was still operating, it looked absolutely glorious, the epitome of New York glamour. The stop is closed from the public now but still sits there in all its glory. I read some blog posts to see how possible it was from other explorers that had ventured to get a glimpse. Luckily we didn’t have to go all Evil Knievel and sneak down into the subway tracks. There was a way to see it just by catching the subway. The 6 train, which pretty much covers the length of Manhattan, passes City Hall when it loops back around after its last stop at Brooklyn Bridge. So that’s what we did. When we got to the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge and the voice came over telling us “This is the LAST STOP on this train. Please everyone leave the train”, we stayed on. Take that society, we’re breaking all the rules. The 6 train started to move slowly on its loop back round, Will and I stood on opposite sides of the train with our noses pushed up against the glass. I yelled to Will when I saw it and he came running over. It was only visible for a mere 10 seconds, but it was worth it. Maybe it was just because we were seeing something we weren’t meant to but it was beautiful. The photo below is of when the stop was still operating.
Next was Grand Central Station. Usually Grand Central gives me anxiety. Since we moved, this is now where I have to catch the train to get to work in the morning. That many people, all in a rush to get to work is just asking for trouble. But I decided I would make the trip there in the weekend because of all the amazing things I had read about the station. Some of the most amazing things are off limits to the public. For example there is a subway line underneath Grand Central that no longer runs but was put in place purely for President Roosevelt to get to his hotel when he was in town. The train was found years ago and is apparently still there, with its coat of armour on. Another incredible fact about Grand Central is the basement. The basement runs from 42nd St to 94th street, which is pure madness. The entire City Hall building could easily fit in the basement alone of Grand Central. All of these hidden treasures aside, this vital piece of New York still has a lot of secrets if you know where to go.
When you think Grand Central Station I’m sure a tennis court doesn’t even register. Well the courts at Grand Central have been around since the 60’s. My research tells me that Geza A. Gazdag founded the Vanderbilt Athletic Club and had two clay courts put in. In the 80’s the courts got taken over by Donald Trump, who of course turned it in to his own private club. While under his ownership, the club invited many celebrities to come and have a hit. The courts got shut down in 2009 for a while to make room for a staff lounge for MTA employees. However, they were reopened at a new hidden location in the terminal, under the name The Vanderbilt Tennis Club. Again, this took some researching to figure out where exactly they were located. They couldn’t have done a better job of hiding this place away.
To get there you walk into The Campbell Apartment which is opposite Tequillaville on Vanderbilt St. (Side note: Must check out Tequillaville. What an amazing name for a bar). The Campbell Apartment is a swanky cocktail bar which requires “proper attire” to gain entry. Head past the sign which reminds you are not in proper attire, not just for a cocktail bar but for being out in public in general and head for the elevator. Press the button for the 4th floor, whilst feeling like someone’s going to come and tell you to get the hell out at any moment. When you make it to the 4th floor it will feel like you have to come to the complete wrong place, there’s no way a tennis court could be here. It looks like a doctor’s waiting room with a vending machine to match. Take a left when you hop out of the elevator and you’ll find a small sign advertising The Vanderbilt Tennis Club. Surprisingly, the tennis club is open for the public for a small fee of $100 – $250 an hour. Did I mention Donald Trump used to own these courts? Maybe the prices remain from his ownership. We headed in, still feeling like we were breaking and entering but soon came to a small reception office looking over the court. It was incredible. The guy behind the desk looked like a typical tennis instructor and his clientele the typical housewife type. So he couldn’t have been less interested in us and our amazement at seeing this hidden Wimbledon size court.
This one isn’t so much of a secret because anytime you search Grand Central this will be on every list of what to see there. We went and checked it out anyway and it was a lot of fun. How it works I have no idea and apparently no one else does either. When Grand Central was built, this was not a feature put in on purpose. Located in front of The Oyster Bar and Restaurant, beneath a dome like ceiling there are 4 corners which make up The Whispering Gallery. If you go into one of the corners and talk into it, the person at the diagonal corner can hear exactly what you are saying. Amazing. The Whispering Gallery has been the home to many a marriage proposal and secret confessions.
This was a big disappointment as when we got here it had closed down. What USED to be located at 54 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side was a men’s clothing store hidden behind an arcade. The store front looked like a dingy arcade filled with beaten up games but go through the photo booth and you’ll find a modern clothing store with amazing pieces. I almost cried when we got all the way there and it had metal bars covering it up. It was too good to be true.
I’ve got many more hidden areas of New York to explore so be sure to stay tuned. Do you know of anywhere in New York I should check out?