Our Look At NY’s Pershing Square In All Its Old School New York Glory article takes a quick look at an important destination that has served New York workers, families and travelers for many years. This section of New York City is not as famous as the city’s many other well known destinations such as Times Square, Little Italy or Penn Station and so forth. The reason is that Pershing Square has never really been a tourist spot but rather a busy intersection providing real New Yorkers access to mass transit to all destinations while also providing a major intersecting roadway and viaduct.
Pershing Square is basically the gateway to Grand Central Terminal. The square sits right on 42nd street and Park Avenue under the Pershing Square and Park Avenue Viaduct. The Viaduct is basically an upper roadway that starts on Park Avenue from the North and goes under the Helmsley Building. The Viaduct exits the Helmsley Building and wraps around both the MetLife Building and Grand Central Terminal. It then empties onto Park Avenue South. There are access points to Grand Central Terminal from the Viaduct.
When one walks across the street in Pershing Square, there is a sense of old New York that is there for every New Yorker who grew up or worked in the city over the past 80 years. This is not a tourist experience, it’s a New York experience. Its not Pershing Square itself that hits you, but rather the view from all angles. In one direction stands the magnificent Grand Central Terminal. Hovering over the Grand Central Terminal is the MetLife Building which we all knew originally as the Pan Am Building. One glance to the right is the majestic Chrysler Building towering over the city in all its historical glory. I tried to capture it all in the photograph I took below.
And of course one can not forget to mention the Pershing Building which stands above part of the Grand Central Terminal looking like one of the oldest buildings in the city to be designed as a semi skyscraper. The building was constructed in the early 1920s. Its not the prettiest of buildings but it does lend itself greatly to the feel of the city contributing to that old school New York feeling that one gets when standing in Pershing Square. On the corner of Vanderbilt Ave and 42nd Street also stands a wonderful taxi stand in tribute to Old School New York.
Pershing Square is also home to many small shops that surround Grand Central Terminal. Many great food stands and mini markets have been enjoyed by New Yorkers and those utilizing Grand Central Terminal for years in the Square. The Grand Central Market stands right across the street on Park Avenue from The Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Many New Yorkers who have utilized Grand Central Terminal over the years have been met with a wide eyed view of the Pershing Square Cafe when exiting the station. A long time New York Favorite restaurant since 1997, The Pershing Square Cafe stands right in the heart of Pershing Square. Although its hardly a cafe, it’s a huge indoor restaurant that sadly is closed right now because of the pandemic. It wasn’t always a restaurant. The site in which the Pershing Cafe now stands was once an informational center.
To the right of the Pershing Square Cafe is a large office building in which many of the giants of business, finance, software and more are housed including companies such as Bloomberg, ICapitol and Oracle.
Pershing Square was named after a legendary United States General named John J Pershing who served during the Spanish American War, The Philippine War and became a Five Star General during World War I in which he led the American forces through European campaigns.
Millions of New Yorkers have crossed the street at Pershing Square heading to and from Grand Central Terminal on a daily basis for many, many years. Men and Women to and from the boroughs of the city and the northern corridor of the Hudson and the State of Connecticut. Across Manhattan through subways, taxis and buses all interchanging at Grand Central Terminal and the streets Pershing Square.