A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 21, 2018
Kissing Gallery or Kissing Room (Biltmore Room at Grand Central Terminal)

New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (frequently called “Grand Central Station") opened in 1913. The New York Biltmore Hotel operated from 1913 to 1981. Grand Central’s Biltmore Room (a room that led to the hotel directly above the station) was called a “kissing room” or “kissing gallery,” where friends and family could kiss the train travelers a welcome hello or a long goodbye. 

Plans for a Grand Central “kissing room” were printed in 1907 newspapers. The New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, on June 26, 1910, called it a “kissing gallery.”


Wikipedia: Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal (GCT; also referred to as Grand Central Station or simply as Grand Central) is a commuter rail terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Grand Central is the southern terminus of the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines. The terminal serves Metro-North commuters traveling to the Bronx in New York City; Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties in New York; and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. The terminal also contains a connection to the New York City Subway at Grand Central–42nd Street. It is the third-busiest train station in North America after Toronto Union Station and New York Penn Station, and the second-busiest in the United States after New York Penn Station.

21 September 1907, Indianapolis (IN) News, “Scraps,” pg. 6, col. 8:
It is proposed by the master of the Grand Central station, in New York, that it would be advisable for the railway companies, in their new plans, to provide a kissing room and require all osculation to be performed there, so that the concourse, doorways, platforms, and gates be not congested by those who linger for the last goodby.

Chronicling America
26 June 1910, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, “Wonders of New York Central’s New Gateway,” pt. 2, pg. 4, col. 3:
From there they will pass out into the “kissing gallery.” that is what the railroad people call the place where the people wait to meet incoming travellers. In this “kissing gallery” there will be room for double lines of people, each 100 feet long— plenty of space and no confusion for the welcomers. There will be three of these “kissing galleries,” which ought to be ample even when traffic is heavy. The track on which each train arrives will be announced, so that there will be no trouble in getting into the right “kissing gallery.”

16 March 1912, The Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 4, col. 1:
A “kissing room” or a “romeo and Juliet” room is to be constructed in the Grand Central station in New York. Another corporation surrender to the common people!

6 August 2000, New York (NY) Times, “F.Y.I.” by Daniel B. Schneider, City sec., pg. 2:
Q.: In the Biltmore Room at Grand Central Terminal, behind a new coffee bar, an aged blackboard displays the arrival times for the day’s trains. But the trains that are listed—with names like the Knickerbocker, the Missourian and the Mohawk—haven’t been seen in years. Is the board a relic from the old days, or a bit of decorative fakery?

A.: (...) Weary travelers arriving on Tracks 39 through 42—the ones used by long-distance lines—were often greeted by loved ones as they entered the 64-by-80-foot marble hall, hence its nickname ‘’the kissing room.’’ Those dispersing into the city could pass through the double oak doors flanking the arrivals board, onto a taxi stand beneath the Biltmore Hotel. The doors were bricked shut long ago, but the taxi stand, with its vaulted driveway, is still used as an underground parking lot.

Gothamist
Grand Central’s Kissing Room Is Returning To Its Former Glory
BY JEN CARLSON IN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ON SEP 26, 2012 4:40 PM
Grand Central Terminal can be a highly romantic place, so it’s not surprising there was once a designated “Kissing Room"—and the good news is that room is coming back. That’s right, romance isn’t dead, it was just held hostage by the MTA for a little bit.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the space is below where the Biltmore Hotel used to be housed, and currently contains a newsstand, flower stand, and shoe shine booths. But in the glory days of train travel, the spot (also called The Biltmore Room) was “where arriving travelers once embraced their sweethearts.” Politicians and celebrities would even greet each other there before retreating to the famous Biltmore Hotel, where Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald honeymooned (J.D. Salinger also included it in Catcher in the Rye).

Google Books
Grand Central:
How a Train Station Transformed America

By Sam Roberts
New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing
2013
Pg. ?:
The so-called Kissing Gallery (apparently so dubbed by a rewrite man for the New York Herald), near Tracks 39 to 42, is where arriving passengers on long-distance trains, including the 20th Century Limited, greeted friends and relatives.

Complex
10 Reasons Grand Central Terminal Is One of the Coolest Places in NYC
BY JOE FLEMING
FEB 02, 2013
(...)
The Kissing Room
The Biltmore Room, also known as “The Kissing Room,” is a sequestered spot in Grand Central Terminal, where, decades ago, people would meet up with loved ones, and passengers could travel up to the luxurious Biltmore Hotel (which is familiar to anyone who read The Catcher in the Rye, of course). The nickname, though? It was coined in light of its reputation as the location where significant others, family members and friends would wait in anticipation of arriving military troops. Since the closing of the Biltmore Hotel and reduction of certain train lines, the Biltmore Room’s no longer a meeting spot, and it now houses shoeshine kiosks, a newsstand and a flower stall. There are plans in motion place to renovate the area, and restore the space to its classic Kissing Room aesthetic (and romantic glory).

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Friday, December 21, 2018 • Permalink