Most people lucky enough to stay at New York City's famed Waldorf Astoria get in through the lobby doors, but did you know that there's another, much more covert, way to gain access to the posh hotel? An ordinary door on 49th Street acts as a portal to the clandestine train platform, which was most famously used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Known as Track 61, the structure was built below the hotel as a way to usher FDR and other important folks into New York City unnoticed. Inhabitat recently embarked on a private tour into the depths beneath the hotel to check out the mysterious track and accompanying train car for ourselves.
Led by Metro-North’s Danny Brucker, the private tour of the fabled Track 61 is unfortunately not offered to the general public. The expedition begins with at an unmarked street-level door near the Waldorf-Astoria, which takes hardhat-clad guests down below the street and under the famed hotel.
A modest stairway leads visitors into the belly of the beast and into the abandoned station, where it is difficult to hear over the hiss of steam being discharged by infrastructural pipes and the sound of trains passing by on adjacent tracks.
The historic train car that carried FDR into the Waldorf-Astoria, most likely as a way to shield the wheelchair-bound president from the prying eyes of reporters, still sits inside the station. The car, which is rumored to have once been fancy and lined with plush velvet, now stands abandoned and decaying. However, it’s still fascinating to see the heavy metal cladding of the VIP car designed to protect America’s most precious cargo.
Next to the train is the original private platform, as well as the elevator that would transport FDR into the basement of the hotel, or into the Grand Ballroom. Although the station has seen better days and now looks decrepit and dilapidated, it is still one of New York City’s most magical and historic gems.
Photos ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat
Check out more photos from the tour on our Flickr stream.