The WWII servicemen’s hangout at Grand Central

ServicemensloungeWartime New York City was a very hospitable place for the thousands of enlisted men (and women) going off to fight in World War II or returning home on furlough.

Take Grand Central Terminal, for example. During the war, the East Balcony was turned into a “Service Men’s Lounge” by the New York Central and New Haven Railroads.

According to the back of this postcard, the lounge was “equipped with ping pong and pool tables, library, piano, easy chairs, lunch counter, etc.”


The lounge was “a meeting room for men of all nations,” wrote John Belle in Grand Central: Gateway to a Million Lives. “On any given day, it was not unusual to see a kilted Highlander at the coffee bar learning from an American soldier how to dunk a doughnut.”

In 1943, Life ran this warning about the lounge to travelers: “Busiest on weekends when thousands travel on furlough. To give them more room on weekend trains, plan trips you must make for mid-week.”

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5 Responses to “The WWII servicemen’s hangout at Grand Central”

  1. penelopebianchi Says:

    I live in California! I lived in NYC for 9 months in 1970! It is my favorite place to visit……and yours is my favorite blog about NYC!! Treasures abound there…..and you are incredible at revealing them!

    I love this blog!



  2. Doug S. Says:

    Is this the balcony currently occupied by the Apple store? Any ideas how it was accessed back then? Great stuff. This is a wonderful blog.

  3. andyinsdca (@andyinsdca) Says:

    The link to the Life magazine is worth the trip. Check out all of the ads that are basically pro-war in some respects. Most of the whiskey/whisky brands advertised still exist, too!

  4. A faded war memorial in Grand Central Terminal | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Grand Central played a pivotal role during World War II; part of it was turned into a “Service Men’s Lounge” for soldiers coming and going. […]

  5. Soft drinks and socializing for GIs in Times Square | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] town at Grand Central, soldiers had this “Service Men’s Lounge” for relaxing, playing pool and ping pong, and reading […]

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