Eagle eyed readers who had a look at the Grand Central Terminal blueprint issued by the MTA as part of the renderings of its upcoming Apple store saw a curious locale in the grand old station’s underbelly, two floors below the concourse level–something called Carey’s Hole.
I checked in with a conductor source to find out what the heck Carey’s Hole is. It’s not an “80s porn movie,” he says, but a subterranean “dungeon” for Metro-North staff.
I’ve been sitting in that locker room for 25 years and never knew it was called “Carey’s Hole” (kind of sounds like a 80’s porn movie). The dungeon’s double doors are located near the Time Sq shuttle entrance. To enter, we have to swipe our MN ID’s, then walk down a steep set of stairs (hence the “hole” I guess).
When I started back in ’86 it was a brand new facility and the RR was very proud of it. The area basically consists of two lounges, one for men and one for women with locker room/bathrooms attached. The rooms are painted stark white and are windowless. It has a white suspended ceiling which is now yellowed for years of cigarette smoke. There are several large round tables where conductors eat their lunch, play poker, and tell war stories or bitch about the passengers. There’s also a new flat screen TV down there that are union president recently bought for us out of his own pocket.
When I started as a conductor, if a job had a layover of 4 hrs or more, Metro North would book us a room in the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Ave. Some MTA bean counter finally realized how much money they were blowing , so the RR added bunk rooms to our locker room faciltiy. These “cells” are also windowless, furnished with cots like you’d find in every school nurse’s office (a far cry from The Roosevelt). Also, these rooms sit just above the loop tracks, so they’re not conducive to sleep (no wonder my breathren are so grouchy).
Once the MTA realized how much money they’d saved, they built a simliar crew lounge for the engineers. The engineer’s room is connected to the conductor’s lounge by a labyrinth of tunnels (It’s quite the maze down there), and can be entered by opening a brass door which is under “The Kitty Kelly ramp”. Maybe Kitty Kelly was Carey’s sister???
We’re leaving “Carey’s Hole” at the end of the month (sorry, but that still sounds disturbing) and we’re movin’ on up to a DE-luxe apartment in the sky….well, not really, but they’ve built us (engineers and conductors) a new lounge on the 4th floor of D hall, on the site of the old Grand Central tennis courts (I always heard there were tennis courts there but I ‘d never seen them.)
This is a guess, but maybe Carey’s Hole was named after the recently deceased Gov. Hugh Carey? Probably not. Grand Central has some weird locales…like the “Kitty Kelly Ramp, The Belmont Room, Campbell Apartment, The Whispering Walls.”