Little known to most commuters there have been posh, exclusive tennis courts hidden on the upper levels of Grand Central Terminal since the 1960s, but the Vanderbilt Tennis Club is the current custodian of courts behind the famous vaulted windows.
A fitness center has existed in Grand Central Terminal since the 1960s, originally in the form of the Vanderbilt Athletic Club, which featured two clay tennis courts (and oddly, a 65-foot indoor ski slope). However, by the 1980s this club had fallen into disrepair. In 1984, thanks to a number of sweetheart real estate deals, none other than Donald Trump leased the space and opened a new tennis and fitness club. Trump renovated the aged space, turning its third-floor annex into an uber-exclusive court for the rich and famous, hosting movie stars and celebrities willing to pay in cash (no credit cards accepted). The now spotless clay courts operated in semi-secrecy for 30 years until Trump’s lease, having been month-to-month for the final decade of its existence, was finally given over in 2009 to create, surprisingly not an even more exclusive space, but a full-service lounge and rest area for MTA workers. However, the dream of train station tennis was not yet dead.
While Grand Central went without a tennis court for a couple of years, the Vanderbilt Tennis Club moved into the fourth floor of the station in 2011. This new location features a regulation-size tennis court, practice courts, and other limited fitness services. While not as exclusive as Trump’s courts, the costs (around $100-$250 an hour) do seem geared towards a certain economic echelon.
The main court is actually located behind the top portion of the famous façade window, so next time you look at that famous architectural spot remember that you could get a few sets in if you’ve got the money.