Grand Central Station is one of the great stations of the world. But, I doubt that it is the loveliest, or even close.
That claim was made by David Cannadine, historian, on BBC Radio 4s “Points of View.” You can read the story, here
The station is architecturally grandiose – it’s slightly over-scaled in an American way, even for NYC. The appeal to classical Rome is a bit hackneyed too, even for the time it was built. It looks like a very big provincial bank!
It’s impressive; but not lovely.
For me, the great weakness in the design is the absence of trains – I much prefer a station with visible platforms and trains. Also, I want to be able to access platforms and walk to the engine. This diminishes the general sense of theatre, adventure and romance.
Basically, the best bit of GCS is the waiting room!
If you want to find out about railway stations, look at Steven Parrisien’s “Station to Station” (1997).
Perhaps the greatest example of railway neo-classicism was London’s Euston terminus (1837). I’ve already posted about the brutal demolition of this station, here
Pulling it all down was bad enough, but replacing it with what is now Euston was certainly tragic. Luckily, there are plans to redevelop Euston, and to rebuild the arch.