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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Provides a history of Grand Central Terminal from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, including its construction and architecture, the role played by Cornelius Vanderbilt, and facts about railroads in general.…

Overall Book Review:

Ed Stanley has written a fascinating book about Grand Central Terminal in New York City that begins with the original Grand Central Depot built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871.

Stanley fills his narrative with intriguing details about

-the trains (over 600 trains a day used the station while it was being completely rebuilt)

-the excavations to create two levels of tracks (“46 football fields worth” of rock and earth had to be dug out and hauled away)

-the architect’s plan to keep Park Avenue from simply ending at Grand Central (the Avenue was elevated and wrapped around the building).

With an eye for the interesting detail, Stanley tells about elephants who couldn’t get out through any of the doors, about a fugitive from justice who hid in the building and tunnels for two years, about thirty-five police officers “thundering out of their train’s baggage car on motorcycles, shooting up the platform, through the Main Concourse, up the ramps, and out on to 42nd Street.”

Stanley also uses analogies to make his numbers meaningful—the amount of rock and earth excavated was “equal to the amount of concrete in the Hoover Dam.”

Stanley starts his story out by explaining how the accident occurred that led to the building of the new Grand Central Terminal. Although it doesn’t have a novel’s plot to pull the story along, the book’s intriguing stories and accessible information make it one that will interest those who love trains, architecture, history, and engineering. Those who don’t want to read the entire book can dip in at any point along the way.

My only complaint is the lack of big pictures in the book, but the book did made me want to hop on a train and actually visit this magnificent “gateway to New York City”!

Reading Level: 8.9, range 6.7-10.5.

Also good for reluctant readers.

Of interest to boys and girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:

This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

Mention of “tragic train wreck,” detailed description of signals ignored by engineer that led to crash that killed seventeen people and injured others; mention of location near slaughterhouses.

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mention of location near breweries.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

On May 15, 2014 Compass Book Ratings acquired Many reviews were acquired from and these reviews were not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist. Nevertheless, the reviews contain useful content information which is included.