Track 61: Mysterious Abandoned Underground Railway Beneath New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel

track-61-waldorf-astoria-nyc-abandoned-underground (All images (unless stated) by Sam Horine via Gothamist)

There’s something truly compelling about the hidden, long-forgotten corners of our major cities. The abandoned subterranean railway siding beneath New York City’s Waldorf Astoria is well known in some circles. But news of its existence – and that of the armoured train car parked on its tracks – may come as a surprise to many.


Contrary to popular belief, the mysterious siding, known as Track 61, was never intended for use by the hotel’s more famous guests. It originated as part of Grand Central Terminal’s sprawling underground network of storage sidings, above which the iconic Park Avenue hotel was later developed through an air rights lease.


But over the years local lore and the media have fuelled rumours of a secret underground railway station beneath the Waldorf Astoria. That would be Track 61, and though never built as a station, the truth just as intriguing.


While there is evidence that the siding was used on occasions by VIP guests, most notably General John J. Pershing on his visit to New York City in 1938, the majority of reports remain unconfirmed.


Claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt used Track 61, and the armoured train car that still stands there today, have been queried by historians. The rumour may be rooted more in urban legend than concrete fact, along with another popular account of Andy Warhol using the space as an underground party venue in 1965.


According to Joseph Brennan of Columbia University, the abandoned Track 61 served as a loading platform for the powerhouse as opposed to a discrete docking point for VIP hotel guests. And in contrast to a New York Times article of 1929, the freight elevator running from platform level to 49th Street never carried to carry wealthy patrons directly to their suites.

hidden-history-waldorf-astoria-hotel-park-avenue-new-york (Image: Onyo, cc-sa-4.0)

Even so, Track 61 remains a fascinating oddity in the fabric of subterranean New York. The abandoned space is just as off-limits today as it ever was. But as Untapped Cities writes, discerning riders on Metro-North can catch a quick glimpse of the forgotten siding when pulling out of Grand Central Terminal.

Keep Reading – 10 Abandoned Subway Stations of New York City


About the author: Tom




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