8. Guastavino Tunnel to the Lost Biltmore Hotel
Sometimes the most surprising finds are in the most unassuming places, like a parking garage. On a visit to Grand Central Terminal, Untapped Cities tour guide Justin Rivers noticed the famed arched herringbone pattern typical of Guastavino tile work, just like the famous ceiling of the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Research into this area revealed that it was once part of The Biltmore Hotel, a grand Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore-designed structure that was built as part of “Terminal City,” a compound of hotels and other buildings connected to Grand Central Terminal that was proposed in the original plans by Charles A. Reed and Allen H. Stem, along with William Wilgus.
One of the hotel’s best amenities was the ease with which guests could come and go using the hotel’s connection to Grand Central Terminal. Guests of the Biltmore arriving at Grand Central Terminal would have their luggage collected from the train by porters and then they would travel via tunnel to an elevator in the hotel’s basement and be carried up into the hotel without ever having to step outside.
The hotel was stripped down to its steel skeleton in the 1980s and all that is left of the original structure are small remnants like this passageway and its iconic golden clock, which can be found in the lobby of 335 Madison Avenue. The pathway leading into the tunnel from Grand Central Terminal is not marked. It’s located on the western end of the Terminal, next to the Pylones store and the Transit Museum annex. The parking garage entrance can be found on 44th street between Vanderbilt and Madison. If you visit the garage at night when no cars are parked in it, you will find various cab stop signs engraved on the ground, spread about eight feet apart from one another.