Built along with the rest of Grand Central Terminal, Track 61 was never properly abandoned, as it was actually constructed to be a powerhouse and storage area for unused New York Central Railroad cars, not a passenger station: Contrary to popular belief, Track 61 is not part of the NYC Subway but rather part of the New York Central Railroad, now Metro-North.
Grand Central Terminal was constructed from 1903 to 1913 on the site of an older Grand Central Depot, which was replaced in gradual steps. The original depot that opened in 1872 was at street level, filling the space between Vanderbilt Ave and Depew Place from 42 St to 45 St. A large trainyard also at street level grew to take up much of the next few blocks almost from Madison Ave to Lexington Ave. The tracks narrowed to the width of Park Ave at 49 St and entered the Park Ave tunnel at 56 St.
Track 61 was once used by VIPs -most famously by Franklin D. Roosevelt —who wanted to make an entrance or exit the hotel without being seen or having to go through New York’s traffic. A private elevator, existing even today, was large enough to fit Roosevelt’s armored car and lead it to the hotel’s garage.
The secret platform was first used in 1938 and in 1965 Andy Warhol threw a fittingly named ‘Underground Party’. By 1978, the platform was known as one of the many places in Grand Central Terminal where squatters lived. Today, the train car which used to carry Roosevelt is parked abandoned in the track which is not accessible to visitors. It remains however a “holy grail” for many urban explorers.
Update as of January 2020: The train has been moved to the Danbury Railway Museum in Connecticut.
Know before you go. Before you come and spend time at Secret Track 61 Under the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan there are tips and advice for exploring abandoned places. We want to ensure that you enjoy your time there.
Know the Dangers When visiting Secret Track 61 Under the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, the most obvious hazard is falling through rotten floorboards — but there are often much more sinister invisible dangers.
Wear proper clothing and equipment
If you’re going to be exploring, wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind ruining. Choose your footwear carefully too. Besides a camera and any photography props you might need, you’ll also want to bring a flashlight.
Don’t steal souvenirs from Secret Train Track 61
The artifacts left near Secret Track 61 Under the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan once belonged to somebody, even if they haven’t been there for years. At best, you’re diluting the experience for other urban explorers; at worst, you’re stealing and desecrating a historic site.
Expert on Urban Planning and Abandoned Places
|Mr. Gregory Hooqe is a highly experienced expert on Urban Planning and Sustainable Development. Mr. Gregory Hooqe has been focusing on Urban Development since 2000 and has written extensively on the subject.|
He was awarded the 2009 Korea Foundation Professional Award for his research on Korean Smart Cities, as well as the 2016 Korea Development Institute, Global Ambassador Award for SD and Innovation. Mr. Gregory Hooqe served for LG Technology Center and has been teaching and consulting at Shaanxi Railway Institute and KDI.