Wanna know a secret? Promise not to tell? Then, come a little closer, and just like the classic Beatles song, I’ll whisper in your ear.
Ready? Here’s a secret about a cool train station located below a historic New York City landmark — none other than the Waldorf Astoria. Just so you can be in the know — and better yet, check out the exit markers for yourself — here are all the cool details you need to know.
The Secret Under the Waldorf
You don’t have to be living in England, or in Harry Potter’s world, to find a secret train platform. Here’s one, located right in town, that’s every bit as fascinating.
And this one is real.
The Waldorf Astoria is a New York Astoria treasure — worth checking out just for its classic, landmark beauty. But underneath the hotel is another treasure. A secret, hidden treasure. Known as track 61, this secret train station is an extension of Grand Central station.
How, and Why, Was It Built Under the Waldorf?
Built in the 1930s, it’s believed to have been constructed for, then, President Roosevelt, in his ongoing attempt to hide his polio condition from the public.
He used a custom underground lift, and a special train car — for his presidential limousine — so he could come and go from the hotel parking garage without his disability being observed by the public.
And it wasn’t just any locomotive. President Roosevelt had the special train car equipped with bulletproof glass and special, protective armor.
Other Famous Passengers
For military purposes, General Pershing used the station in 1938, as well as General MacArthur. It was also used for a train exhibit in 1946, and for a fashion show in 1948. In addition, other dignitaries have occasionally had the opportunity to be privileged, mysterious passengers — coming and going from track 61.
In 1944, when President Roosevelt sought to be elected for a 4th term in office, he spoke at the Waldorf. Afterward, on his way to Hyde Park, he took the underground lift to the secret train car in order to avoid public viewing of his disability.
While President Roosevelt died in 1945, rumor has it that other presidents have used this secret train station, located under the Waldorf Astoria, as recently as president George W Bush.
When a president is visiting New York, platform 61 is always guarded by the military and police, and an idling train car is constantly kept available. This procedure is established in case the president must make a quick, and safe, emergency escape.
The Mystery Continues
In 2003, Peter Kalikow, the Chairman of the Metro Transport Facility, sought to inspect the area. He was startled when he was met by several well dressed, and armed, men who immediately escorted him off the premises.
Why? Station 61 remains protected, especially during presidential visits to New York. And that includes keeping it from the watchful eye of anyone, including the Metro Transport Facility Chairmen.
Check it Out for Yourself
While you can’t visit the train station directly — after all it’s a secret — if you go to the 49th Street entrance of the Waldorf Astoria hotel, you’ll see the numbers “101-121.” These Numbers are believed to mark the exit for the lift built for President Roosevelt.
And after you’re done checking out secret train stations with your friends, why not bring them to High Bar for a cocktail? We’re located on the rooftop of the Doubletree, at 346 West 40th. Our food and drinks are amazing, and we’ve got the view that will wow you!
For reservations call: 646.362.7146