Ever Since Franklin Roosevelt visited New York
New York might be the city that is ever changing but some mysteries linger on
New York provides the stimulus of change in the world. Nothing remains in one place but constantly keeps changing into something newer and more livelier in this city. That’s just how New York is.
New York was named after the Duke of York by the British. Most surprisingly, it also served as the capital of the US for just a year till they moved on to Washington DC.
The huge neon hoardings on Times Square, skyscrapers that almost touch the sky, scores of people rushing past, yellow taxis on the road are what symbolise this metropolis.
But can you find a spec of history and mystery here?
Back in the 1893, a quarrelling German family by the name of Waldorf Astor built 2 hotels along with George Boldt in the place where the infamous Empire State Building stands today. These two hotels were separated by Peacock Alley. One hotel was called the Waldorf and the other Astoria.
These set of hotels were amongst the first to have full electricity and separate bathrooms. They were too lavish and considered to be a failure. Businessmen thought them to be exorbitant. It was something designed for the world’s elite. These set of hotels took off well despite sombre predictions.
Unfortunately, the heir to one of the hotels John Jacob Astor IV went down with the Titanic on its way from Belfast, Ireland. At the same time, the luxury upmarket area of New York had moved from 34th Street where the Waldorf-Astoria hotels stood. Hotels like the Savoy-Plaza were more ‘in’ and updated.
The Waldorf-Astoria was a talk of the old.
On 3rd May, 1929 the Waldorf-Astoria closed its doors and sold the land to the authorities who wanted to build the Empire State building.
Was really the days of the Waldorf-Astoria over? You may say no, as the hotel is one of the best today.
Luckily for the family, when they asked for new investors to buy land in the happening areas of New York, they got the funds. This was just months before the Great Depression of 1929.
Today Waldorf Astoria is a status symbol and hosts celebrities and the rich. But we aren’t looking at the hotel, we are looking at what’s beneath it.
If you look underneath this luxurious grand hotel, you’ll find rundown train tracks filled with dust, and a mysterious train sitting there unsuspectingly with MNCX 002 written on it.
What are train tracks doing under a hotel?
You might argue that the biggest station in the world, the Grand Central Terminal station is just 4 minute drive away. Maybe they are old tracks that the station no longer uses. No they are not.
The tracks underneath the Waldorf Astoria are collectively called Track 61. They don’t belong to any rail network, not even the subway. These are a private set of tracks built around 1933.
In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the President of the US. 11 years before that, he was diagnosed with polio.
Roosevelt tried his best of hide his ailment from the public. To do this he went through many lengths.
When in New York, Roosevelt would most often stay in the Waldorf Astoria. He loved it here.
To hide himself from public scrutiny when in New York, a secret set of tracks were built under this hotel. These tracks were an offshoot from the normal tracks that brought trains from Washington DC, the location of the White House, to New York.
A train with the president’s limousine would start from DC. The president would be inside the limousine in the train.
The train would directly have been brought under the Waldorf Astoria in a simple looking terminal yard.
Here a ramp would be attached to the train and the limousine would drive out onto the platform. This would be happening underground unknown to the public outside on the ground floor.
The limousine would then enter a lift strong enough to carry 8000 pounds of weight. This lift would take the president to his suite or to the lobby.
This secret service now lays in abandon catching dust for over decades. So no, you won’t find Trump trying to enter New York without you noticing!
On one of the tracks, as I mentioned before, is a train car. It stands in the corner neglected. Most mysterious are the words MNCX 002 painted on it. This is not art done by a graffiti artist.
The letter X stands for the Federal Government.
The train car would have been made in the 1920s or early 1930s. During this period, bulletproof technology hadn’t been developed. Thus, this special train car is built from layers and layers of steel. The thickness of its walls is almost an inch.
The panels, windows and the entire built is very strong. It also has heavy machinery built underneath near the wheels to propel the heavy cargo that the train car might have carried.
Furthermore there are small holes at the top of the train car. They are possibly gun holes used in case of an attach to shoot at the enemy and protect what’s inside!
All this is rather mysterious. The navy blue virtually bulletproof train car with heavy mechanisms mostly did belong to the Federal Government but what could it have carried?
This question bugs my mind.
What is more mind blowing is the extent to which President Roosevelt went to hide his polio from the public. It might have been easier at that time but in 2017 it is almost impossible.
Franklin D. Roosevelt served almost 4 Presidential terms till his death in 1945. Decades since then, the Track 61 lies under one of the most famous luxurious hotels in the world, Waldorf Astoria.
Today the access to this yard is sealed of. It hides behind locked doors on 49th Street whilst people have been rushing past it for decades not knowing what’s behind that door.
Next time you remark that New York is a city that keeps evolving, think of Track 61 and the mysterious train that stands on it. Maybe New York is changing but there are parts of it that are lying as specs of history.
Do you know any such mysterious places around the world that locals and people in general don’t know about? Tell me via e-mail or message me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I would love to be in on a mouth watering secret like that.
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Image Curtesy- Google Images