|The rail car on Track 61
The picture of this historic train car stayed with me as I read the book. I was interested enough to look up on line what I could find out about this armored train car in Manhattan. I was surprised with American love of history that the site and train car had not been made into a tourist attraction.
There are lots of stories about Roosevelt’s armored train resting on Track 61 including the Daily Mail of England and the Connecticut Post.
There is a video from an NBC story with Matt Lauer talking about the train (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2008/05/matt_lauer_shows_us_fdrs_secre.html). With him is Dan Brucker (a constant source in various stories about Track 61) from Metro North, the company running Grand Central, is telling the story. He speaks definitively of the platform and elevator being built strictly for FDR. He asserts the armored train car has been there since the 1940’s. He says it was painted a special presidential green. It is titled the Ferdinand Magellan on the video.
From the video I learned that it was not a passenger car below the Walorf Astoria but a 1940’s freight car.
One article states that after Roosevelt died in 1945 the train had not moved since that time.
The articles suggest it is not a tourist attraction as it is part of a plan to allow a President to make an emergency exit from New York City.
Alittle more research brought me to an article published by Columbia University on the Waldorf Astoria platform (http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/abandoned/gct61.html).
The platform was actually built before the hotel was constructed. It was the loading platform for a powerhouse on the site. The elevator was put in when the hotel was built well before FDR’s Presidency. Both used by the Waldorf Astoria for guests arriving on private rail cars.
It took but another search to determine that the actual armored rail
car in which FDR rode was called the Ferdinand Magellan. It was
one of 6 Pullman observation cars named for famous explorers. It was built in
1928 not for FDR but general service. It was originally painted “Pullman” green
which was resistant to showing spots. During WW II it was adapted for
Presidential use and was used by presidents subsequent to FDR.
|The real Ferdinand Magellan armored rail car
The real life Ferdinand Magellan is located in the Gold Coast Rail Museum in Florida (http://www.gcrm.org/index.php/exhibits/ferdinand-magellan-us-car-1).
There is reason to doubt there was a second armored train car for FDR starting with the basic question of why the baggage car would need to be armored. Brucker suggests it had gun ports. One article suggested that if a reader believes the freight car at the Waldorf Astoria platform is an FDR armored train car the reader might be interested in buying the bridge to Brooklyn.
I admire how Fairstein added interest to the book through her creative use and adjustment of the rail car actually sitting on Track 61. She used authorial licence to make it a more interesting story.
What surprised me was how willing mainstream media has been to simply accept what Brucker was telling them.
Terminal City by Linda Fairstein