Grand Central Terminal Tour

The prototype tour for the Cannonball Express Convention is a tour of Grand Central Terminal. We will take the Long Island Railroad as a group, departing from the Mineola Station. (Travel to Mineola is on your own. Public parking is available for $5.63 for 290 hours.) Mineola is a station on the Main Line. All trains for the Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, and Oyster Bay branches run through this station, as well as a few for the Montauk Branch. The Oyster Bay branch breaks off from here and heads north to its namesake town. For the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, the West Hempstead branch broke off and went south. On our way, we will pass through Jamaica, the largest transit hub on Long Island, the fourth-busiest rail station in North America, and the second-busiest station that exclusively serves commuter traffic. It is the third-busiest rail hub in the New York area, behind Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. Over 1,000 trains pass through each day. We will pass by Sunnyside. Once a major fright yard, it now services trains from the Long Island Railroad, NJ Transit and Amtrack. We will then go into the tunnels that connect Long Island with Manhattan. Our destination will be the new Grand Central Madison Station. This station is located 140 feet below Grand Central Terminal. It is built to allow trains from Long Island to access Grand Central. Previously, all LIRR trains into Manhattan went to Penn Station. Initially proposed in 1968, construction started in 2008 and the station opened this past January, many years late and many billions of dollars over budget. The new terminal enables passengers to transfer to Metro-North's Harlem, Hudson, and New Haven Lines, as well as the New York City Subway at Grand Central 42nd Street station.

After arriving, we will go upstairs to the historic Grand Central Terminal for a tour of this iconic structure. Books have been written about this facility. You will have the chance to see it yourself. Our tour guides will be from WALKS, the official Terminal tour guide company. Begin in Grand Central Terminal's main concourse, where you'll meet your guide. To set the scene, you'll hear the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt who, way back in 1871, masterminded the origins of Grand Central. Three iterations later, a mixture of tragedy and electrical innovation led to the final build we know today. Reminisce upon many a Hollywood blockbuster whose villains and leads have dashed under the station's glamorous Beaux Arts-style soaring arches. Next, head into Vanderbilt Hall where, in the 1980s, disrepair and a large homeless encampment compelled New Yorkers to restore Grand Central to its former glory. Heading outside to Pershing Square, you'll spot the famous Tiffany Clock, the largest of its kind in the world, and a statue in Vanderbilt's honor. As you make your way back indoors, you'll head a ramp down past the Oyster Bar, the most famous of Grand Central's many lively restaurants with menus reflecting the cultural diversity of New York.The adventure continues as you uncover secrets most never see. Step into a glamorous speakeasy-style space where a prominent railroad tycoon once held court, discover one of the largest lost and found departments anywhere in the world, and even check out a wine store that was once a movie theater! Soon you'll emerge onto bustling Lexington Avenue, dwarfed by the looming shadow of the majestic Chrysler Building. Returning inside, you'll stroll through Grand Central Market-surrounded by 160 seafood varieties and 400 types of cheese!

When you finish up back at the Main Concourse, you'll have seen Grand Central with a fresh perspective, brimming with fun facts and historical insight. Drawing the tour to a close, your expert guide will leave you at the Transit Museum, with time to explore further or revisit your favorite areas with enlightened eyes. At the completion of the tour, you will have the option to return with the group or remain in New York City and see some of the attractions there. Check the convention website under "New York City Attractions" for ideas.