27.3.11

HOW LEGENDS BEGIN.  Voluntary Xchange finds an anticipated Beatles Mockumentary. "I didn’t know Scottie Pippen and his homies won the Super Bowl at Shea Stadium in 1965."   Lose enough of the content, and put the information you do have together incorrectly, and that's what you get.

Something similar appears to have happened under Grand Central Terminal, where the Daily Mail foreign service claims to have found President Roosevelt's private train.  A closer inspection of the picture suggests a New York Central baggage car that got pushed out of the way under the Waldorf-Astoria and subsequently proved to be too expensive to haul away for scrap.  But don't let that get in the way of a good story.
His presidency began in 1932 at the height of the depression with nearly a quarter of the working population jobless and two million homeless.

In such difficult times, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not want anybody to know of his own problems and arranged to journey in and out of New York via Grand Central in a personal armoured train.

'The platform is directly under the Waldorf Astoria and after Roosevelt's 6000 horse powered diesel train would pull up on the tracks it would let his personal car out of the side,' said Dan Brucker, 52, spokesperson for Metro North, the company that runs Grand Central Terminal.

'The car would then drive off the dark and secret platform into an elevator which would take it directly into the Waldorf Astoria garage.

'This served to protect Roosevelt's safety and protect his disability through polio from the public at large.'

The train is still visible in the poorly light disused platform, a remnant of a different time in American history, when industrial icons like locomotives ruled the land.
Mr Brucker once showed a number of O Scalers through Grand Central Terminal, and he's too well informed about his terminal to be spreading disinformation, although he might have given his British guests too much information in too big a hurry for them to digest it all.

First, Mr Roosevelt would not have had a 6,000 horsepower diesel train.  It is true that a three-unit, 6,000 horsepower diesel locomotive, the first Alco PA-1, did make its debut on the Waldorf-Astoria siding (not in the ballroom, is there no end to some train nuts' imagination?), but that was in 1946, after the war.  The Presidential train might have used the Waldorf-Astoria siding, and the special Presidential car with hand controls might have been brought along.  But the special armored official car Ferdinand Magellan, used by Mr Roosevelt after 1942 and more famously by President Truman (and President Reagan had it restored to service for a 1984 whistle stop campaign), is in preservation (but not open to the public) in Florida.

The abandoned presidential train is the less titillating legend about the Grand Central Terminal plant.  There's also the battery room in the sub-basement.
During the war, it was not Roosevelt's train which concerned Hitler but the immense power grid under Grand Central, which to this day powers the transportation of more than one million people per week up and down American's East Coast.

Constructed as part of the redesigned terminal in 1913, this colossal top-secret area ten storeys deep - known as M42 - was left off all blueprints for the station and its existence was only officially acknowledged by the station owners in the late 1980's

Accessible via a lift that is almost 100 years old, M42 is still one of the most closely guarded areas.

'The exact location of M42 is still classified information,' said Mr Brucker.
It's so classified that a Mail reporter visited it, and, in July of 2001, Mr Brucker showed it to the visiting O Scalers.


Knife switches for the old batteries and rotary converters.
The converters have since been replaced with solid-state rectifiers.



An early twentieth-century control panel.

It's possible that Hitler wanted this substation put out of business, although a news report that suggests he wanted to learn about the Manhattan Project (an extremely closely held codeword) as well as about disrupting U.S. railroads is doubtful. Some German spies did land at Bar Harbor.  The target most ferroequinologists recognize is The Pennsylvania Railroad's crossing of the Alleghenies, a complex more difficult to conceal.

The sub-basement of Grand Central might have been a closely guarded secret (apart from railroad employees and ferroequinologists.)  Hollywood knew about it all the same.


Lex Luthor's hideout is behind that door.

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