Archive for February, 2013

Photography by HagePhoto / Aurora Photos

Like Spiderman in paradise, this climber is one of many who seek out toeholds amid the rocky caves surrounding Tonsai Beach in southern Thailand, a renowned climber “hangout.” More »

Photography by Katie Hards

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of an iconic New York City landmark — Grand Central Terminal. For the past century, it has served as a major hub of transportation for daily commuters coming or going to and from NYC. It also serves as a major tourist destination and is one of the top 10 most visited destinations in the world, according to Daniel Brucker, Manager of GCT Tours. Today, on its official birthday, the Guinness Book of World Records will bestow the building as “The Largest Station by Number of Platforms.” So, besides that, what’s so special about this train terminal?

The building is steeped in the history marked by its technological advancements in transportation, ingenuity in design and architecture and urban development that shaped NYC to be the metropolis we know today. Just think about the stories of the billions of commuters and travelers who have come and gone through the building over the years. Who knows how many hello and goodbye kisses and hugs have taken place within the confines of the building. And we’re sure that even the items in the station’s expansive lost and found room come with their own unsolved mysterious stories, including an urn of ashes or a basset hound that have both, somehow, been left behind. With nearly 700,000 people served daily, Grand Central also boasts an on-time performance of 98%, ensuring everyone arrives safely and promptly at their destinations.

Photography by Katie Hards

Before their centennial celebration, I was able to partake in a very special behind-the-scenes tour to understand what makes this building and its services so unique. From the lowest depths of the building — which is the deepest basement in all over New York City — I, along with other special guests, got a glimpse into the enormous electrical infrastructure, both that power the station.

Prior to 1913, the trains coming to and from Grand Central were powered by coal, making any property along the open air tracks dirty and undesirable. With the introduction of electrically powered trains, the tracks could be enclosed underground, and the land above it (Park Avenue) became ripe for development. This area became, and still is, some of the city’s most lucrative and expensive properties.

Photography by Katie Hards

Photography by Katie Hards

In the upper reaches of the building, we sidled past busy men and women sitting in the Metro North control room. They were guiding train traffic in and out of the station by overseeing blinking lights and numbers on two enormous screens — leaving me cross eyed from its complexity. Luckily, we ducked into a door behind them to scale a couple of rickety ladders that led us to a small room. We found ourselves faced with the most beautiful Tiffany glass clock, which is visible along 42nd street. The “6” on the clock opens up to reveal the street below and Park Avenue leading up to the station. It’s a great view from a unique vantage point. We got another great view from the upper glass catwalks. This perspective allowed us to see the wonderful beaux-arts features of the building and to gaze closely at the ornate constellations painted on the ceiling. Peering down, we gained a birds-eye view of the expansive main concourse to watch the commuters, travelers and visitors from above.

Photography by Katie Hards

Photography by Katie Hards

If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple before March 15, put Grand Central Terminal on your must-see list. MTA Metro-North Railroad — which operates the Terminal — is celebrating the centennial with an informative exhibit highlighting the history of the building through photographs, architectural drawings and interactive exhibits. You can even download a special app that will guide you through the unique elements of this centenarian landmark. Though you won’t be scaling any ladders or peering down from the catwalks, you’ll gain historical insight and visit some of the other unique features of the building.

Photography by Katie Hards

See what other landmarks, events and cities are celebrating big birthdays this year in our Travel Anniversaries of 2013 slideshow.

- By Katie Hards

In This Week in Travel, it’s all about lists. Check out top sights to see, reasons to travel, or packing favorites from these travel blogging experts. READ MORE

If you’re an owner of one of the locations that Steve and Amy are tasked with investigating, you can be sure, you are Never Alone.

In this all-new episode of The Dead Files, Amy and Steve investigate terrifying reports of paranormal encounters at a family home in the picturesque, waterfront town of Forester, MI. Their client, Chrystal has always wished to fulfill her mother’s dream of turning the house into a bed and breakfast, but with all the paranormal experiences she’s been having, she’s too afraid to spend the night in the house.

While Steve uncovers the stories of 2 deadly fires that devastated the town, Amy attempts to fight off a vicious entity that tries to take over her body.

Are Steve and Amy in over their head? Will Chrystal finally be able to exorcise the demons that have been haunting her home? Find out on an all-new episode of The Dead Files, tonight at 10|9c.

Chat live with fellow fans during the Never Alone premiere, and don’t miss the live chat with Steve and Amy after the show.

Plus, check out these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s investigation.

Photography by Brad Goldpaint / Aurora Photos

At Big Bend, all roads lead to a rich history of peoples living along the Rio Grande along with geologic wonders like the Boquillas Formation. More »

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