Who Owns Grand Central Terminal?
A big “paper railroad” that still exists after everything around it went away is the New York & Harlem Railroad.
It was chartered 1831, built a line from New York City to Chatham, then leased to the New York Central in 1873 for 401 years. Funny thing, it still exists and owns a lot of New York City real estate including Grand Central Terminal!
It should be noted that one corporation that still remains as an asset of the successor company (American Premier Underwriters) is the New York & Harlem Railroad Co. This company, founded in 1831, is responsible for $7.8 million in (redeemable in gold) 3 ½ bonds due in 2043. These bonds are legally secured by the 127-mile right-of-way from New York City to Chatham AND by GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL! Currently, these borrowings are rated “Baa1” by Moody’s (not too bad since Penn Central seems to have sold off some of this property).
American Premier Underwriters, Inc. is now the direct descendant of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company which was founded in 1846 and the New York Central Railroad Company, founded in 1853, but tracing its roots back to 1826. They merged in 1968 to form the Penn Central Transportation Company and developed into a highly diversified conglomerate. In March, 1994, Penn Central dropped its well known rail-related name in favor of a title that more accurately described its business activities – property and casualty insurance. Today it employs 5,400 people, has sales of $1.8 billion and is publicly traded on five stock exchanges.
American Premier Underwriters is part of American Financial Group, which, as the successor entity to Penn Central, is the largest holder of common stock in the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”). American Financial holds roughly 55% or 5,200,000 shares of outstanding Amtrak Common Stock, out of a total of about 9,000,000 shares.
In 1994, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gained long-term control of Grand Central Terminal in the form of a 110-year lease from American Premier Underwriters, Inc.,
In 2004, American Premier Underwriters sold 1.3 million previously issued and outstanding American Financial Group common shares. These shares were held for the benefit of creditors of APU’s predecessor, The Penn Central Transportation Company. Proceeds from that sale ($41.5 million) were placed in escrow to be used to pay APU environmental claims related to its former railroad operations.
Have heard that something like Midtown TDR Ventures, LLC purchased Grand Central Terminal from American Financial in December, 2006. Midtown TDR Ventures, LLC is, in turn, controlled by Argent Ventures (Andrew Penson, President).
But frankly, all these corporations that followed Penn Central sound more like AIG or Bernard Madoff. We are unable to find out how much any of these corporations received in Federal Bail Out Funds (except AIG). NOTE: Mr. Madoff needs BAIL not bailout.
Grand Central Terminal Ownership 2012 Update
I don’t think you can necessarily say that one company “owns” the entirety of GCT. GCT and its various appurtenances and buildings constitute one large property “block” (no. 1280, if you care to look it up on the nyc.gov ACRIS search divided into a handful of lots. The two biggest lots (nos. 1 and 10) take up the entire west half of the GCT block.
While it gets complicated — particularly given various exceptions to title, consent agreements, leases, assignment of leases, easements, subterranean rights, and air rights — to suss out anything that might resemble ownership of these lots as a whole, looking at the deeds for the two large lots gives an overview of ownership history.
Currently, the owner of these lots is Midtown Trackage Ventures, LLC, which purchased the lots (and a lot of other property) from the PCC successor entity American Premier Underwriters, Inc. in 2006. However, with respect to GCT, the deed contains many exceptions. These relate to things such as the NY&HRR’s mortgage with JP Morgan, almost 30 indentures (smaller deeds) that range from the Yale Club to the Commodore Hotel to the post office, the perpetual easement to New York City (for the subway, etc.), earlier transfers of development rights, MTA/Metro North leases, etc. They are all listed on pages 10-16 of the deed, so if you look on those pages, you’ll get an idea.
Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) allows you to search property records and view document images for Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn from 1966 to the present.
Some aids to you in searching the ACRIS database
Even the Owasco River Railway is involved in this whole mess!
So the Harlem Division still “hides under the covers” but it is still there. It is all about “shuffeling money”. Guess a lot of people do that for a living. Even Warren Buffet describes Saint Romney as just “shuffeling money”.
Sorry to say, we can’t pin ownership on a specific individual. Closest we get is Andrew Penson. He didn’t even get invited to the 100th Anniversary of Grand Central. Guess he was too busy. Anybody remember Scrooge McDuck from Saturday afternoon cartoons?
What Is Mysterious Track 61
Mysterious Track 61 Grand Central Terminal Track 61, which FDR used to sneak in and out of Grand Central and hide his disability (he had severe polio) from the public. Was Track 61 used other times by Presidents? Matt Lauer of NBC put on his best play clothes May 8 2008 to examine “The Mystery of Track 61? on the Today show. Lauer went 30 feet below the Waldorf to investigate the secret train track that has intrigued urban explorers for decades. Lauer ended up with a nice 7-minute segment, with some commentary from colorful Metro-North spokesman Dan Brucker and Brooklynite historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. He spoke about not only the phantom track, but the mysterious bulletproof freight car still located under the Waldorf that played some sneaky role in presidential security. “His armor-plated Pierce Arrow car would drive off the train, onto this platform and into the elevator, and it would bring him and his car into the hotel garage,” Metro-North Railroad spokesman Dan Brucker said while offering a rare tour of the long-unused station. “He could take the presidential train back to Hyde Park without ever leaving the building.” This story gets taller and taller anytime someone tells it. The Grand Central Palace, the railroad’s heating and power facilities and Adam’s Express Co. occupied the area between 47th and 50th Streets and between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue . They were torn down in 1929. In 1931, the Waldorf-Astoria completed its 40-story hotel on the site. Except for a small basement, the Waldorf-Astoria is directly over the tracks and the two platforms for the powerhouse and Adams Express. The track 61 platform was of course never used or intended to be used in regular passenger service, and it was not even built for the hotel; it just happens to be there. A stairway and a freight elevator run from the platform to a street entrance on 49 St. The freight elevator is not original and was probably built after the power house was torn down. There is also another stairway exit, without an elevator, on the 50 St side of the hotel building. So it amounted to a private railway siding underneath the building. Guests with private rail cars could have them routed directly to the hotel and take a special elevator directly to their suites or to the lobby. The baggage car ( “bulletproof freight car”) was left by Penn Central for worktrain service and the MNCX reporting mark was painted on the car in 1984 in North White Plains shops (not by the Secret Service). Also on the level: In 1965, the platform was used for one of Andy Warhol’s underground parties. (I found this out from a museum in Mouans Sartoux, France) In 1946 the American Locomotive Company’s 6000-horsepower Diesel-electric locomotive that was headed to Santa Fe RR system to be used between Chicago and Los Angeles, was exhibited on the Waldorf’s private siding beneath the hotel.
Track 61 elevator going to Waldorf Astoria
FDR’s car reputed to have arrived by baggage car and brought up on elevator
Armored baggage car reputed to have carried FDR’s car
Another view of Track 61 at Grand Central Terminal
New York Central Railroad Police
OK, you found “Track 61”, bet you are interested in similar “stuff” about the New York Central Railroad.
Below is an excerpt from the book “QUEEN OF MEAN” (LEONA HELMSLEY) by RANSDELL PIERSON:
“Hells Kitchen between 8th and 12th Avenues consisted of Freight yards, stock pens, tenements, factories,plus. Armed gangsters had terrorized the area between 1868 and 1910, when a special Police Force organized by the NYCRR finally returned a semblance of Law and Order” I guess this when the Police Dept NYC originated.
Actually, I think the NY Central police went back before 1910. I have notes from my grandfather, a former NYC paymaster, that “when we ran a paycar, we had two paymasters and a railroad detective on every paycar”. He was born in 1890 and started at the Central upon completion of high school (1908?).
No officers shot on the West Side! But New York Central Police Force had 4 detectives killed by gunfire first in 1919 in Ohio, 1921 in Ohio, 1921 in Ohio, and in Indiana.
Here’s some more great NY Central Detectives in action
Now you have seen a hidden track at Grand Central Terminal, find out about a hidden subway station.
Grand Central Terminal Knowledge Database (your reward for finding “Track 61” and “Who Owns Grand Central”)
|While much of this material appears on our numerous WebPages of Grand Central Terminal, New York City, New York Central Railroad (including the employee magazine from the 1920’s era), mass transit, the West Side Freight Line and the New Haven Railroad; we have added as many verifiable references as we could. Keep watching, as we find them, we will add them.|
| Below are some of the more interesting facts about the structure:
* ·Grand Central Terminal covers over 49 acres.
We have some great coverage of the Obama Inauguration train
Following this inaugural train, you can see why the powers that be would rather see the President fly. The Northeast Corridor is easier than most other rail routes: their are no grade crossings to protect. Did you realize that they actually run three trains? First is the pilot train. Included it that train is the Corridor Clipper: It is a “track geometry car” that checks the rails. It also has a pantograph that does not draw electricity, but checks the height of the wire. Following the Obama train is a whole backup train. Bringing up the rear of it was Amtrak’s Business Car, Beech Grove.