Grand Central Rats

Thousands of people go into Grand Central through the Lexington Ave entrance every day.


I always wonder how many look up and see the rats also desperately trying to get in.


I’m not quite sure I fully understand the symbolism, but, according to Forgotten NY, The Graybar building was once the nation’s focal point for maritime and rail transport. If you look closely, where the cable (or “hawser”) reaches the building, there are eight rat heads. So are we, the people, represented by the rats trying to get in? Why are there some rats already inside, while others are blocked by the rat guards?? Whatever the answers may be, I love this often over-looked oddity.

I was in the Theater District today, where I passed the Hudson Theater and noticed something new.


If you are standing at the right angle (I had to stand across the street and zoom in in order to get this), you’ll just be able to glimpse one of two comedy/tragedy masks hidden behind the awning (perhaps the awning was a later addition?). The comedy mask is particularly sinister:


One of the most beautiful buildings in the city to me is the New York Yacht Building, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by the architects behind Grand Central.


Lining 44th Street are these incredible windows, clearly meant to represent the rear of a ship.  I cannot tell you how gorgeous these are in person – the limestone seems to drip off the building, as if the glass is the only thing stopping it from sliding off into a puddle on the ground.



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  1. G.C.Rats…I don’t know why rats are both inside & out but the ones out show an old common shipping(sailing ships & steamers) used to have these guards on their cables so when they docked the rats from differnt Ports couldn’t get aboard. It helped stop spreading diseases around the world.
    I also think the Yacht building is my fave. I thought it had a plaque stating that it is the old Soldiers,Sailors,Seamen Club. NYC. or some such thing. Check out…

    The Theatre Mask looks like a Classic Greek Theatrical mask.

    Keep up the good work !

  2. Thank you for the rat pics! I noticed them a long time ago, the Hampton Jitney goes right past them (and you’re pretty high off the street in that bus) and always make a point to check them out.

    As Brien Foy points out, it’s a reference to ships’ cables.. I think the reason some rats are in might be an acknowledgement that it didn’t always work!

    Love your blog, thanks!

  3. I just did a scavenger hunt at Grand Central on Sat w/ Watson Adventures, & these rats were one of the clues we had to find! I saw them & said I know them, I saw them on!
    I don’t remember the details about the question, but it was about finding what was trying to get back on the ship, & how many were there.
    Just something I thought was funny.

  4. The building on 44th street is actually the NY Yacht Club designed by Whitney Warren in 1899.

  5. I like this a lot. People who are caught up in the “rat race” will probably never see the rats, nor appreciate the irony there.

  6. I was 15 when I drooped acid and spent hours in grand central , the glass floors high above.
    now im sure you cant even go up the steps!
    great shots brought me back to the 70’s
    never did see those rats but gargoyles abound!
    “those were the days” maxs, mud club, the nursery, “after hours”
    wish i had a time machine!