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Are we already recording, looking at your notes? This is so official. Hey, guys, it's Brian Baumgartner. Maybe you've heard my podcast, an oral history of the Office, where we go deep into the making of the show now. Well, you can go even deeper. That's what she said, because I am sharing my full length conversations with the cast and crew of the office. Listen to the office deep dive on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class A production of I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the podcast. I'm Holly Fahri. And I'm Tracy Wilson. So we're a year into this pandemic, almost least in terms of of places being locked down and travel restrictions happening. And I really miss travel. I know that's like a very privileged thing to miss.
But I one of the things I have really, really been missing and so is my husband has been New York, because prior to that, I feel like I was getting to the point where I was in New York once a month and like, you know, it felt felt like second home for a while. I would go to my usual fabric stores and they knew me and I would, you know, just tootle around New York because I love it.
So I thought to quell my own wanderlust, it would be interesting to look at the history of a place that is iconic to New York to try to help me cope with these feelings. So I thought it would be fun to look at the history of Grand Central Terminal as it started and evolved. This is a story that starts really with one of the wealthiest names in U.S. history. But it also kind of becomes the story of the city itself, at least since the mid eighteen hundreds, because Grand Central has been such a pivotal element, as have the railroads in the growth of Manhattan.
So that's what we're covering today in the eighteen hundreds. New York was growing rapidly. We've talked about this before, including in our episode on Seneca Village. One of the big elements of the city's growth was the development of railroads to connect the city to other parts of the island of Manhattan and beyond. Three of the major railroad companies that introduced lines in New York City by the middle of the 19th century became the drivers of the story of Grand Central.
So the New York and Harlem Railroad was chartered in 1831, and it initially ran tracks along Fourth Avenue that started it Twenty Third Street and went all the way up to the Harlem River. And then there were also eventually branch tracks off of it that left that primary line and kind of took left turns and stuff as well. Keep in mind, these were not yet steam engines. These lines were carrying horse drawn cars at this point. And then the Hudson River Railroad was established in 1847 and ran, as the name suggests, along the Hudson River for almost the length of the island.
The New York Central Railroad had formed in 1853 when 10 smaller railroads merged. Those railroads still exist today, sort of.
Now they are part of the Metro North Railroad Company owned by the umbrella company that has more name recognition. That's a Metropolitan Transit Authority or MTA. Yeah. When you see people tweeting about their MTA trains, it's all related all the way back to the eighteen hundreds. And the beginning of the consolidation of those three lines is thanks to Cornelius Vanderbilt. Today, the Vanderbilt name is associated with wealth. But when Cornelius was born on May 27, 1794, on Staten Island, his family lived in poverty.
Cornelius only went to school until he was 11 because after that he had to focus on earning money for the family, working alongside his father on the docks as part of his father's ferry service.
When he was 16, Cornelius Vanderbilt bought his first boat. Sometimes this is also reported as being two boats, and he started his own ferrying service, carrying people from Staten Island to New York City. And while he ran the business on his own, he had gotten a loan from his parents for the purchase. So he shared his profits with them. From that small beginning, he built a fleet taking advantage of the War of 1812 to expand so that he could carry needed supplies to various outposts through a government contract.
So he made the money from this enterprise and he sold his little armada just eight years into this ferry business and became a captain aboard a steamship that seems weird. And he spent 11 years in that role. And then in 1829, he kind of goes back to his roots of being an entrepreneur because he parlayed his expertise in steamships that he had gained to start his own steamship company once again offering ferry service, but this time in a much more upscale fashion to his previous first companies offering.
And he was fairly cutthroat when it came to his competitors. That's the kindest way I can put that. He lowered his fares to the point that he pushed other New York ferry services into a corner. They were going to go out of business because they could not compete and they eventually paid him just to move his business to another market. Then he shifted his company's routes to Wrentham, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island from Long Island along the Hudson River. And his wealth continued to grow, at this point just exponentially.
He eventually expanded his shipping business to routes that. Included New Orleans and then the U.S. West Coast via passage through Nicaragua, which was shorter and faster than the one through Panama that most of his competitors were using. Once again, he pushed his competition to the brink of ruin and then cut a deal so that they could pay him to cease operations, which they did. You might have gathered from this that Vanderbilt was kind of a business genius, but also a real jerk.
In most ways. This fleet of steamboats that he amassed earned him the nickname Commodore. Yeah, in a lot of those dealings. I mean, he's getting paid to not work like he's like, you will pay me and then pay me an annual stipend to continue to not compete with you, which is, as I said, Cut-throat is the nicest way I can put it. After he left the shipping industry, Vanderbilt turned his eye to railroads, which at this point he was starting to see as having far more potential for growth than shipping.
Trest were leaving out a lot of stuff here about his various ongoing feuds with other people. But at this point, he started purchasing stock in the New York and Harlem Railroad and he continued to do so until he kind of cornered the market and then owned the line. That was in 1863. By 1869, he had also taken control of the Hudson River Railroad and the New York Central Railroad. And the acquisition of the New York Central Railroad was downright ruthless.
He had refused to take passengers from the New York Central Line onto his other railroads as connections during the winter, when the path along the Erie Canal that Central would have normally used was frozen over. So this meant that both freight and passengers were cut off and isolated and to quell the growing unrest and difficulty the central railroad had. As a consequence, the New York Central Railroad sold control of the company to Vanderbilt just to get everything moving again. One of the ways that Vanderbilt had outmaneuvered his competition throughout his career was by having capital on hand before starting a new venture.
Whether it was ships or railroads, he was able to undercut marketplace cost to the consumer because he had enough to not have to jack up his prices to keep the business afloat. Simultaneously, he invested large portions of his capital into infrastructure, so he was upgrading his businesses, many of which had been struggling when he acquired them to then make them more profitable. Yeah, basically, he could take the time to make the investment and take an initial loss and then be like, look, my line is way more luxurious and I'm charging way less than the other guys.
And of course, everyone would flock to that. This consolidation that he created with the railroads started a number of industry standards in the US based on rules that Vanderbilt insisted on. For one, all of his railroad employees wear a uniform. For another, he instituted the policy that tickets had to be punched before boarding. This is not, to be clear, a situation where Vanderbilt invented these practices. They were already standard procedure. In Britain, for example, he actually modeled a lot of his train business on the way Britain managed their trains, but he just integrated them into US business and made them the standard.
So in terms of connecting various locations to each other, these rail lines were pretty great and Vanderbilt was making a lot of money. But there was also the very real problem of pollution. New Yorkers did not like all the soot that came with trains in the city, as a consequence, the city ordinance had been issued in 1854 that banned steam engines from traveling south of Forty Second Street. If you were in the city lower than that, you would only see horsedrawn conveyances.
Yes, the trains would all stop it. 40 second passengers would switch over to carriages and that's how they would get around in the southern part of Manhattan Island. And again, that that ordinance happened before. He really got like huge into into trains. But naturally, he saw this and wanted to extend his railroad service. And he also wanted to make it easier to coordinate among the three railroads that he now owned. So he was at the start of 1869, running lines with two separate terminals.
He did not have a freight complex for the Hudson line. And so his approach of developing infrastructure was that whole thing where he would like use his money to build it up was what led Vanderbilt to construct the Grand Central Depot starting in 1869. The decision was to build a transit hub at 40 Second Street, but all three lines could use on a tract of land in the St. John's Park neighborhood. This project, which was known as the Grand Central Depot, started in 1869.
The face of the structure on Forty Second Street was two hundred forty nine feet wide and the extended north to East 48th Street, the land that the railroad did not already own was purchased by Vanderbilt once again through his use of pressure. Oh, he loved to pressure people to give him what he wanted. So in 1850, again, way before this, the general railroad law of New York State had established a rule regarding land the Vanderbilt was happy to exploit when it came time to do so.
So in an effort to foster growth and infrastructure via this law, the railroads have been given the power to appropriate land and then have its value assessed by the court system. So basically say, Hey person, I need your land. The court's going to tell us what it's worth and I'll pay you that. And though there was at least one offer by a landholder to lease Vanderbilt his property instead of selling, the tycoon insisted that he always bought and never leased and he was able to acquire the plot in question, as well as every other tract of land that he needed for his project.
Many of these assessments were likely at far lower prices than they should have been, thanks to the various connections that Vanderbilt had to people in power, which he was again perfectly happy to massage manipulate.
In the end, Grand Central Depot cost Cornelius Vanderbilt six point four million dollars. It was designed by architect John Besnik, and it opened on November 1st, 1871. So estimating that six point four million dollar value today puts it at more than 140 million dollars. It had five elevated platforms, five mansard roofs, a tower in honor of each of the three railroad companies that came together there. It had a sixty thousand square foot glass roof, offering passengers a sense of grandeur as they boarded and made their transfers.
Whistles and bells were not allowed inside the train shed, so it was surprisingly quiet. I will say at this point that the use of the phrase train shed always cracks me up when looking at these historical things, because I think of a shed as a small structure in your backyard. But these were I mean, this was like the train version of Paxton's Crystal Palace. It was huge. And it's where all the trains came through and all of the passengers boarded.
So we're going to talk about the reaction to Vanderbilt's new train depot and how it evolved after we first pause for a sponsor break. When General Motors says that they aim to put everyone in an electric vehicle, they mean everyone. There is a whole new generation of people who will soon plug in their vehicles as naturally as they charge their phones, who will choose to emit optimism, not exhaust. They don't change cars by the relevant engine, but by the hum of progress.
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So once it opened, some journalists downplayed Vanderbilt's depot as being neither central nor grand. And one writer actually called it end of the World Station. Part of the criticism here came from the logistical arrangement of the station. So inbound trains arrived on the east side of these so-called qaid and outbound trains exited on the west side. And that meant that trains needed to sometimes cross each other's paths north of the station. So it created kind of a weird traffic tangle.
Also, even though this was spacious, sometimes passenger traffic caused logjams of people as the passengers tried to navigate through the platforms and dozens of trains came and went through the facility every day. And each railroad line had a separate waiting room. So for people who had to do their transfer with luggage, this was an especially trying ordeal. Still, the depot had its fans with the New York Herald calling it, quote, the finest passenger railroad depot in the world in 1870 to increased demand for more tracks led to complaints that the train tracks were already creating huge swaths of unsafe areas as crossing multiple tracks, which was necessary to traverse certain parts of the city on foot or in vehicles meant that you were putting yourself in danger almost every time, especially as the traffic load increased on those tracks.
In a letter to the New York Times, one resident wrote, quote, There is no single thing on New York Island so dangerous to the community and prejudicial to its interests as the valley of the shadow of death, which cuts the city into its entire length and stretches unpaved ungraded and is given over to the hundreds of locomotives that continually dash up and down through the richest district of New York. This led Vanderbilt to run sunken tracks with bridges in place for pedestrians to safely pass over them for seeing that the same problem would crop up in other neighborhoods north of this main area of complaint.
He also made arrangements to tunnel through the rock below the city streets up to 96. By 1888, tracks were sunk underground up to the Harlem River. In 1869, a sculpture of Commodore Vanderbilt by sculptor Ernst Classman was commissioned by one of Vanderbilt's associates, Albert DeGroote, and was erected downtown at one of his his older train depots. I believe this bronze statue is reported as costing eight hundred thousand dollars. But for all of that money, the reviews of it were really not good.
Lawyer and diarist George Templeton Strong wrote of the statue, quote, As a work of art, it is beashel. You can decide for yourself if you're in New York. That statue still exists, but it now sits at the south facade of the Grand Central Terminal. DeGroote had been planning a second statue specifically for Grand Central Depot, and Vanderbilt had even had architects snuck create a space for it. But the poor reception to the first one caused them to reconsider.
Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877, but his son William, who inherited most of his father's businesses and money, and then Williams sons continued to run the depot successfully for more than 20 more years. And in a way, Vanderbilt's success in normalizing train travel for New York also led to the downfall of his Grand Central Depot train. Commuting became so commonplace that demand soared, which meant that the depot really was no longer big enough to handle the required traffic for the city.
In nineteen hundred, there were one point eight million people in New York City and Grand Central Depot, which at that point was just 30 years old, was already considered woefully outdated for what the city needed.
There had been an effort to expand the facility a couple of years earlier that included an exterior transformation to a neo renaissance style. That renovation had built the structure up, adding several floors. In 1900, another round of renovations started that reorganized the layout of the depot, which by then was already being called Grand Central Station. The separate waiting rooms were combined into one large space. A women only waiting room and retiring room was created, and then another waiting room was added underground for lower class passengers that they would not crowd the main waiting area.
And yes. I would not even call it thinly veiled. This is a pretty overt way of relegating the poor immigrant community into a waiting room in the basement. Yeah, there's actually a company executive, I think, who is like basically made this statement to the papers that was like, don't worry, you can come to the station and you won't see poor people to upset you on your travels. It's a little it's super icky. New tunnels for trains had also been added by this point.
And while these tunnels were vented, they still filled with steam and smoke regularly. This, of course, impacted visibility. You can see where it's going. And on January 8th, 1980, to the horrible but inevitable finally happened, that is an incident that is now known as the Park Avenue crash. This collision happened because an engineer running an express train from White Plains just couldn't see the signal that indicated that another train was up ahead. The express rear ended a commuter train.
Fifteen people died instantly and dozens more were badly injured. The engineer, John Whisker, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. Several weeks later, he was released after a jury was split on his level of responsibility. But they were unanimous that railroad management was to blame for the conditions that caused the tragedy. Ultimately, there were 30 lawsuits that resulted from this accident, including one which awarded a six hundred thousand dollar payout to a widow of a man who had been killed.
This was expensive to the company in addition to just being a terrible tragedy. And it caused a lot of ramifications in New York, the state legislature put limitations on steam locomotives into place, and by the end of 1982, the railroad was scrambling to figure out how it would manage. Under these new laws, these laws forbade steam trains in the city all the way up to the Harlem River. Then on December 22nd of that year, engineer William J.
Wilgus wrote the railroad president a letter outlining an ambitious solution that was to tear down the old Grand Central and build a new one that was designed to accommodate electric trains. Yeah, and for clarity, the city had a number of years to make this changeover. It wasn't effective immediately. No trains, but they were still in a bit of a panic because they did not know how they were going to continue their business, especially considering that they had lost a lot of money in these payouts.
They were very, very worried. So electric trains were still pretty new at this time. They had been introduced in 1895 on the Baltimore and Ohio line, but they also offered so many solutions to the problems at hand. There was no smoke or soot. There was no need for large scale train sheds. And because of that lack of a need for an above ground shed, that meant that they could stack to levels of platforms to accommodate greater numbers of trains and do it all underground.
This would mean that the ongoing issues of places were above ground tracks caused traffic dangers could also be finally addressed, and all of those crisscrossing tracks could be designed a little bit more elegantly and dropped underground. And the plan that Wilgus had, the company would build a 12 storey building over the train terminal with space available for rent. He estimated that would bring in two point three million dollars a year, which was not a slam dunk suggestion. There was a lot of pushback from the executive level about the estimated 35 million dollar budget for the project.
Wilgus was able to make his case to the board of directors of the railroad, and he did convince them. By mid-January 1903, they were on board. Wielgus had a full green light to start the project. By June of 1903, New York Central Railroad was given rights to the city's underground between Lexington and Madison and E40 second and forty seventh in perpetuity. In exchange, the railroad agreed to an annual fee of twenty five thousand dollars. So this project was a great opportunity for Wilgus.
He got a huge promotion out of the deal, but this was also a huge challenge. He had to figure out how to transition the railroad lines for electric cars, how to raise the existing building and how to construct a new one. While service continued, they could not shut down their train service at all. And he had to do this while the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was the New York Centrals direct competitor, was also building their own brand new station servicing Manhattan, set in the blocks between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to thirty Third Street.
While steam locomotives were only banned in the city proper, Wilgus figured they would just go ahead and electrify their lines outside the city as well to accommodate a growing commuter population. This level of electrification for a rail line had not been done anywhere else at that time. And it's a little bit of a spoiler alert, but Wielgus pulled it off, so the real road had been given until 1988 to cease operation of steam engines in the city. They were running electric by the end of 1996.
They had started in August 1903, moving a lot of the station's business to Grand Central Palace Hotel so that the depot turned station could start construction. Trains were still using the depot, but passengers did all of their purchasing and checking of items through the hotel. Wilgus also set up this construction plan of what he called bitts. Basically, it was little sections of railway that would be completed at a time which slowly chewed their way through the city, leaving new electricity ready rail systems in their wake's to design the station itself, the railroad asked for submissions from architects.
The contract looked like it was going to go to a St. Paul firm, which was Reed and STEM. Here's a handy coincidence. Allan H. STEM was married to wilgus a sister, but another firm with its own connections to the Vanderbilt family. Just Warren and Wetmore submitted a design that was rushed through approvals at New York Central that resulted in both firms being used in a partnership agreement. The final plans weren't quite as ambitious as Wilgus had initially envisioned, but this was still a massive project.
As the station construction got underway, the rail lines themselves continued to be augmented and switched over with a new lower track that ran 40 to 45 feet underground. One hundred eighteen thousand five hundred ninety seven tons of steel were used and as many as 10000 workers were employed during the busiest phases of construction. The first electric train on the system ran on September 30th, 1986, and it and the other electric trains that were part of the New York central system could run at much higher speeds than their steam counterparts, going forty to fifty two miles per hour, depending on where they were in the system.
The whole thing was controlled by two massive lever systems, one for the regular trains and one for the express trains with four hundred and three hundred and sixty two levers respectively. Forty levers were assigned to each system operator and the system was at an underground tower under Fiftieth Street. And while that early ahead of schedule transition to electric trains was a huge feather in William Wilgus Cap, he did not get to enjoy his glory for very long. In February of 1997, the company had expanded its electric line to include a route to Westchester.
And just two days after that line opened on February 17th, 1987, there was an accident as the White Plains and Brewster Express was heading north through the Bronx at six p.m., the commuter train jumped off the tracks while going around a curve at two hundred this street. Twenty people were killed with one hundred and fifty more injured. Most of the deaths were people in the last car, which was filled primarily with women and children. It was both a tragedy and a public relations nightmare for New York's central wilgus.
And the company thought the cause of this was a problem called nosing. This was a problem where the tracks were widening slightly under the weight of the new trains so the locomotives would shift or nose to one side or the other. Wilgus kept detailed notes as he examined the possible causes of the wreck, and this documented how he came to the conclusion that nosing was the issue. The railroads lawyer pushed him to destroy these notes, which Wilgus did, but then he recreated them without telling the council or the company.
They were eventually donated with a number of his other papers to the New York Public Library. The railroad had started redesigning their locomotives, but they left Wilgus out of the project. And this after he had been told to destroy papers that he thought were important because the company was worried about if anybody found them, just made him feel both angry and insulted. And he resigned while he went on to have a lot of other achievements in his career. And he won a number of awards.
He was not part of the grand opening of the terminal that he had envisioned and guided through so much of its development.
Well, talk about the last phases of the project that played out after Wilgus is a departure. And just a moment after we hear from the sponsors, they keep our show going.
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The last train left the old Grand Central Station on June 5th, 1910, and then the full demolition of the building began to make way for a new terminal that would cover more than 46 acres of land. That's twice the footprint of the structure it was replacing. It was going to have the ability to handle triple the traffic that its predecessor had.
When the all new Grand Central Terminal opened at midnight on February 2nd, 1913, it was filled with amenities. Women passengers had their own waiting room attended by maids. There was a salon for women and a barbershop for men. A telephone room stood ready for communication needs and advertisements touted the terminals. Knowledgeable and friendly staff dubbed walking encyclopedias. There were no stairs, only ramps. Immigrants and laborers were still hidden away from other passengers, though. Yeah, they just did not fit in to the image that they were trying to portray of this as a beautiful, upscale place.
So they grossly hid them away. The bazaar style terminal was and still is a place with some spectacular art. The Massive Sculpture Gallery of Commerce, which is also called Transportation, features Hercules, Minerva and Mercury. It was carved by Yusufeli Cotan for the facade, and that was unveiled in 1914. You can still see it. It is still there today. The elliptical barrel vault ceiling had a celestial mural with overlays on the star showing where various constellations sit in the night sky.
So if you've ever been to Grand Central and looked up at the current ceiling and marveled and said that sounds familiar, that one that you're looking at is not the original, that original painting got water damage and just became kind of gross and it was covered over and repainted to replicate the original in the 1940s. Then it was cleaned and repainted again in the 1990s.
The first train out was the Boston Express. The first train in was a Harlem line car. And over the course of the terminals first day, an estimated 150000 people came to see it. Incidentally, the oldest tenant of Grand Central Terminal is the Oyster Bar. That's a restaurant that was there in 1913. It is still there today, although at the moment it is temporarily closed due to pandemic restrictions.
With the opening of the new terminal, which drew acclaim from the press, the neighborhood immediately surrounding it just instantly became more valuable in terms of real estate. Grand Central was valued by the city's assessment at seventeen point seven million dollars in 1913 and just a year after it opened, the properties surrounding it all more than doubled in value that continued to rise in the years after that.
What had been an area filled with warehouses changed really rapidly into an upscale section of Manhattan terminal city with its residences, hotels and office buildings had been part of wilgus earliest ideas to make Grand Central Terminal and anchor to a full business community. It had remained in the plans, though the extent of it had waxed and waned over time, and it became fully realized with connected buildings offering thousands of residents the choice to travel from home to office while staying completely indoors if they wished.
The New York Times wrote, quote, The Grand Central Terminal is not only a station, it is a monument, a civic center, or, if one will, a city without exception. It is not only the greatest station in the United States, but the greatest station of any type in the world. Grand Central continued to evolve over time, with various businesses moving in and out through the years. In 1967, Grand Central Terminal was designated as a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which meant that it was protected by law.
That commission, incidentally, was formed in response to various buildings of historical significance in the city being demolished. The final incident that catalyzed that commission to come to be and this got Grand Central classify it as a landmark actually was the demolition of Pennsylvania Station, Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central actually merged into one company called Penn Central a year after that landmark designation and then proposed a significant renovation of Grand Central that would have left the facade in place, although I think it would have been covered over it would have been internalized to the new design and it would have demolished a lot of the main building.
This proposed construction was not approved and led to Penn Central filing a lawsuit against the city for preventing the project. And this case dragged out until 1976 when Grand Central Terminal was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The building complex, which had fallen into disrepair, was eventually taken over by Metro North and. Underwent a massive multi-year restoration and renovation that upgraded Grand Central structurally as well as aesthetically. And now there's all kinds of fun stuff that goes on there.
Yeah, I'll tell my Grand Central story in our behind the scenes. Fabulous. I love it. Anyway, New York, I miss you desperately.
I do, too.
I miss all of my favorite restaurants.
I miss going to the Met. I really miss New York.
I miss seeing our colleagues in New York like the whole thing. It's like we'll see them sometimes on big company meetings. But when you're on a huge video call, not everyone shows anyway. And it just I. I miss all those kiddos.
So for listener mail, I'm going across the country to talk about another famous thing in a city that we have talked about recently, which is Griffith Park. And this is from our listener, Mike, who wrote Ladies, thanks for the story of Griffith Park and Griffith Griffith. Although Griffith Griffith devolved into a pariah, the park that he helped create is a true jewel in the city of Los Angeles. I grew up about six miles from the park and over the years living in the Southland.
I learned the following at the park to swim at the park pool, ride a horse at the pony rides and equestrian trails, the love of train steam engines that travel town astronomy from the observatory, love of wildlife at the old and new zoo. Love of the outdoors by walking the trails and fire roads of the park. Landscape photography by standing on the park's hilltops and looking at the Southland and how dependent the Southland is on imported water by the Mulholland Fountain.
He also goes on to recommend another thing, and he sent us a picture of L.A. that was taken from the observatory looking south. And it's beautiful. Yeah, I'm glad that I'm glad that he wrote this just because we talked about it some in the episode about how important it continues to be to Ella's identity. But it's just good for a local to remind us of all of the cool things that are part of growing up in L.A. that you can do in Griffith Park.
Um, it it I, I marvel whenever I'm there at how much of it remains undeveloped and kind of just natural landscaped, like again in a city that always blows my mind. We talked about it when we talked about Central Park before, but because it is so huge, Griffith Park, I'm always like really they're just there. None of this is developed.
Yeah, yeah. When we recorded that episode and you had the the number of acres in there, I remember looking for a comparison at how big the Middlesex Fells are here in Massachusetts, because that's like a big undeveloped park space full of trails and it's not entirely undeveloped. Parts of it are, you know, there's like a dog park and that kind of stuff. But like. Yes, way bigger, way bigger than something I already felt like was huge.
That's the thing, right? If you've ever like one of the things I love to do when I'm in New York is to walk the whole length of Central Park. It's one of the things like Brian and I do together when we're there and it takes a while and it's long and you realize how big the park is. And then when I think, like, this was like way huger, it just gives you a sense of scale and appreciation for it.
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