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At 100, Grand Central still bursting with secrets

New York's famous train station had its centennial today. CNET remembers a recent trip there to investigate many of the terminal's most impressive secrets and special features.

Every day, more than 700,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal in New York, including 200,000 visitors. Yet, while so many people use the famous terminal, few know about some of the terrific secrets it harbors. The famous terminal turned 100 today.
Daniel Terdiman/CNET

When one of the most famous buildings, let alone the busiest train terminal in the world, turns 100, a lot of people stand up and take notice.

So it should come as no surprise that on its 100th birthday today, the world celebrated the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal, New York's shining beacon to public transportation, still vital and busy after all these years.

In 2010, I had the privilege of visiting Grand Central and getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of its greatest secrets, and some of its most awe-inspiring views. Given the opportunity to look out over the amazing main concourse from a window high above, I was even told in all seriousness that I should wait to stick my head -- and my camera -- out the window until the police had been alerted. My host didn't want me to get shot by cops worried I might be a sniper.

Grand Central is justifiably famous as a transportation hub, but few know about some of its other world-class attributes. Among them are a hidden train station far below dedicated to one task only: getting American presidents in and out of New York in case of emergency; a lost-and-found department that is more efficient than any on earth; a $20 million jewel hidden in plain sight in the concourse; and so much more.

Happy birthday, Grand Central.