9. Vanderbilt Statue

Grand Central Terminal Rear Facade

Also inspired by Vanderbilt is his namesake statue on the Terminal’s south facade, sculpted by Ernst Plassmann, who also famously sculpted Benjamin Franklin and Chief Tammany. The statue, which stands at 8.5 feet tall, depicts Vanderbilt in a fur-trimmed overcoat with one hand on his chest and the other outstretched. A 1929 New York Times article notes that it was “the largest bronze figure ever made in this country.”

Unveiled in November 1869, Plassman’s original Vanderbilt statue was criticized as glorifying Vanderbilt while ignoring the many people killed in New York Central’s railyards. The statue was originally created for the facade of the Hudson River Railroad Depot in what is now Tribeca. After moving to Grand Central in 1929, the sculpture continued to receive criticism for its propagandist nature, but it still stands there today as a testament to Vanderbilt’s contributions to the railroad industry.