Biltmore hotel tunnel
Biltmore Hotel tunnel.

For decades, wealthy visitors to New York City stayed at renowned hotels like the Roosevelt, Waldorf-Astoria and Biltmore due to their proximity to the major shopping and entertainment destinations. Whereas now visitors must take a cab or walk from the transportation hub, Grand Central Terminal used to have underground tunnels connecting to various buildings nearby, including hotels and offices. As part of an underground network called Terminal City built in the early 1900s, many of these tunnels were constructed to better connect New York.

A map of the tunnels around Terminal City and Grand Central. The Roosevelt Hotel is a block north of where this map ends so is not shown. Image from New York Public Library Digital Collection.

While many of these tunnels have since been demolished, a handful still stand in all their glory, while some contain just a few artifacts and remains still accessible today. Check out these eight historic (and modern) tunnels at Grand Central Terminal! You can also learn more about these tunnels in our tour of the Secrets of Grand Central!

Grand Central terminal main atrium

Secrets of Grand Central

1. Roosevelt Hotel tunnel

Roosevelt Hotel Passageway entrance closeup
The blocked-off Roosevelt Hotel tunnel.

There is a secret passageway below The Roosevelt Hotel that once connected it to Grand Central Terminal. While the hotel side of this tunnel has long been closed off, the other side, which emerged into Grand Central, had been forgotten but rediscovered. Reed & Stem, accompanied by engineer William W. Wilgus, began designing a network of hotels and office buildings called Terminal City in 1902 with the intention of creating a commercial center that stretched the length of Park Avenue. The hotel, which opened in 1924, was part of the second phase of Terminal City’s construction between 1920 and 1931 and included such buildings as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the Graybar Building and 277 Park Avenue.

There is currently a boarded-up wall in Grand Central that leads to the lost tunnel to the Roosevelt Hotel. It continued to run north under Vanderbilt Avenue until there was access to The Roosevelt Hotel’s basement. Within The Roosevelt Hotel, there are two potential known entrances into the tunnels: one closed-off portion was once accessed “to the side of the hotel’s lobby,” and one down a staircase via the shopping corridor one level below the lobby.