Among the loveliness inside Grand Central Terminal—the starry-skied ceiling, the clocks, the chandeliers—are some wonderful architectural mysteries.
One that appears to have been an accident of design is the whispering gallery. It’s on the lower level outside the Oyster Bar, under beautiful original Gustavino tiles on a low domed ceiling.
Face the wall and whisper, and your words can be clearly heard on other side of the 50-foot space—thanks to the way sound waves travel across the vaulted ceiling.
No evidence exists that the whispering gallery was anything more than a “happy coincidence,” says one of the architects who helped restore Grand Central in the 1990s, states this New York Times piece.
But other sources say it must have been intentional.
Rafael Gustavino and his son designed this part of the terminal “based on architectural principles that have been used for centuries worldwide—from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing to the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, India,” according to New York Curiosities.
[Second image: postcard of the Whispering Gallery before the Oyster Bar was added; New York Times]