NYC's Grand Central and the secrets it hides

NYC's Grand Central and the secrets it hides

On any given day 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal, according to Metro North, making it one of the busiest hubs for commuters in the country.

Amid all that hustle and bustle, as throngs of commuters, employees and tourists pass through its cavernous Grand Concourse and shopping and dining areas, how many stop to observe their surroundings?

An eight-part series on “Secrets of America’s Favorite Places,” attempts to delve into the history of famous landmarks around the country to unearth little known facts, with each part focusing on one iconic structure.

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Ex-inmate reveals the secrets of Alcatraz

Ex-inmate reveals the secrets of Alcatraz

America’s most notorious prison, Alcatraz once housed celebrity gangsters Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Today it is a popular tourist attraction, drawing 1.5 visitors a year, and a seagull sanctuary. Its storied history, down to the peeling paint, is recounted in “Secrets of America’s Favorite Places.” The episode’s star attraction is Bill Baker, among the prison’s last surviving inmates, who talks for the first time on television about his three-year stint (1957-60) in cell 1259. But Alcatraz was not only home to convicted felons. Thirty-five to eighty kids — the children of guards and corrections officers — also lived on the island. One of them, Jolene Babyak, recalls her memories of the infamous 1962 escape by three prisoners in a raft made of 40 raincoats.

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Alcatraz Prison Was Apparently an Excellent Place to Eat

Alcatraz Prison Was Apparently an Excellent Place to Eat

Fried Pork Chops? Banana Pudding? Chili Dogs? Being locked up on this island didn't sound so bad.

Most prison cafeteria meals are terrible enough to make inmates want to escape. That’s what I hear, anyway. I’ve never been incarcerated for a felony, so I don’t have much first hand experience (or street cred). Nevertheless, we’ve all seen glops of sludge flung onto plastic trays in the movies or indescribable piles of goop described in the pages of novels. But over 50 years ago, the food in America’s most notorious prison wasn’t quite so bad. Actually, scratch that. The food at San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz Prison was pretty damn good.

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Is the Statue of Liberty Actually a Man?!

Is the Statue of Liberty Actually a Man?!

Is Lady Liberty actually a man?

The iconic statue, which has been standing in New York Harbor as a symbol of freedom and opportunity since 1886, may actually be modeled after a male, a new Discovery Family program, "Secrets of America’s Favorite Places," suggests.

According to the controversial theory, French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi used his brother as a template for the face of the Statue of Liberty, rather than his mother, as is commonly believed.

On "Fox and Friends Weekend," historian and professor Edward Berenson disagreed with the theory.

Berenson said that the statue is based on neither Bartholdi's brother nor his mother, but a Roman goddess of liberty.

"That was explicit," Berenson said, referencing an extensive collection of Bartholdi's letters that are kept at the New York Public LIbrary. "He was influenced by all these other goddesses of liberty that came out during the French Revolution. To me, there's no way the Statue of Liberty is male."

Berenson added that Bartholdi took the statue very seriously and loved the United States, making it highly unlikely that he would treat it as a "tongue-in-cheek gift."

 

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‘Secrets of America’s Favorite Places’ Review: The Statue of Liberty’s Little-Known History

‘Secrets of America’s Favorite Places’ Review: The Statue of Liberty’s Little-Known History

That the Statue of Liberty was not originally intended as a beacon of welcome is just one of the revelations—or myths rejected—in the opening episode of the unfortunately named “Secrets of America’s Favorite Places,” a title that suggests this eight-part series is standard, sensationalist TV fare with little claim to seriousness. Its tone is, admittedly, not that of the sober documentarian. There’s no missing the slight undertone of whoopee that accompanies its revelations—but no missing, either, in the first episode, the solid stock of facts little known today about Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s statue, whose torch he never imagined as having anything to do with immigrants. It took on that role only later, abetted by poet Emma Lazarus’s sonnet written to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal. Titled “The New Colossus,” it contained the soon to be immortal lines forever after associated with the statue: “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.…”

Fundraising is one of the richer veins of history scrutinized here in detail, not least the role of Joseph Pulitzer, who appealed to readers of his newspaper, the New York World, to express their support for the statue, their idealism as Americans, by contributing to the fund for the pedestal and by writing letters, some of which he printed in the paper. The result was a flow of small donations amounting to a hefty sum and a large increase in circulation.

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Discovery Family Channel Orders New Series 'Secrets of America's Favorite Places' (Exclusive)

Discovery Family Channel Orders New Series 'Secrets of America's Favorite Places' (Exclusive)

The series will reveal little-known stories about iconic U.S. landmarks.

Discovery Family Channel is revealing the little-known stories about iconic U.S. landmarks in a new series titled Secrets of America's Favorite Places.

The network has ordered eight episodes of the project, which is set to debut Sunday, July 3, at 6 p.m. ET/PT, kicking off the day before the Fourth of July with a Statue of Liberty-themed installment.

Subsequent episodes will revolve around Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood Boulevard, New York's Central Park and Grand Central Terminal, the Lincoln Memorial and Mount Rushmore.

The series will feature interviews and commentary from historians, U.S. National Park Service members, conspiracy theorists, artists and pop culture experts. Encores will at 11 p.m. Tuesdays.

Secrets of America's Favorite Places is produced by Indigo Films for Discovery Family Channel. For Indigo Films, David M. Frank is the executive producer and Paul Sauer is the series producer.

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Experience the Thrill of a ‘Jailbreak’: Investigation Discovery’s VR Experience Launching In Advance of ‘I (Almost) Got Away With It’ Premiere

Experience the Thrill of a ‘Jailbreak’: Investigation Discovery’s VR Experience Launching In Advance of ‘I (Almost) Got Away With It’ Premiere

“As the leaders in true crime programming, ID is all about providing our insatiable fans outlets to consume true crime content on all platforms,” said Kevin Bennett, General Manager, Investigation Discovery. “We are excited to introduce the action-packed VR experience JAILBREAK, offering our viewers first-hand access into just how these perpetrators almost got away with it.”

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Investigation Discovery's Secret Formula for Keeping You Tuned in All Day

Investigation Discovery's Secret Formula for Keeping You Tuned in All Day

It's happened to millions of TV viewers at some point: They stumble upon Investigation Discovery while channel surfing and are instantly pulled into one of the network's lurid, true-crime shows like Wives With Knives, Homicide Hunter, Nightmare Next Door or Happily Never After. Hours later, they're still glued to the screen. Resistance is futile for many viewers.

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Rive Gauche Television Acquires The Day I Almost Died

Rive Gauche Television Acquires The Day I Almost Died

LOS ANGELES: Rive Gauche Television has nabbed the docuseries The Day I Almost Died, which it will launch at MIPTV.

Produced by Indigo Films in association with Rive Gauche Television and airing in the U.S. on Discovery Life, the 8x60-minute title shows that anyone can fall victim to a potentially deadly self-inflicted injury and live to tell the tale.

“We are very excited about The Day I Almost Died, and being in business with Indigo Films and Discovery Life,” said Jon Kramer, the CEO of Rive Gauche. “The show is very compelling and well produced. We expect audiences to be riveted through each and every story. We look forward to presenting this to the international marketplace and expect the series to have a long and successful life.”

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This Dog's Best Friend? A Rat

One dog's dinner is another's best friend.

Such is the case for Cooper, a coon dog who'd normally prey on small rodents like Olivia. Instead, he and the humble rat have formed a charming relationship.

Cooper is a breed of dog that is used in hunting small mammals, Naturalist David Mizejewski told HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski in an appearance with the two animal pals. "Rats, of course, are on the menu for a lot of predatory species, so they're generally not going to a form a friendship."

Olivia and Cooper, both of whom will be featured on this season of Nat Geo Wild's "Unlikely Animal Friends" series, are "special" outliers from their species, and have forged a close bond.

"These guys are great friends," Mizjewski added. "...They are life buddies." 


'Unlikely Animal Friends' Returns Friday, February 27 at 10 PM on Nat Geo WILD

'Unlikely Animal Friends' Returns Friday, February 27 at 10 PM on Nat Geo WILD

Never doubt the power of friendship. Sometimes man’s best friend is not who you think it is, and sometimes predator and prey bond in the most unexpected ways. Of all the unlikely animal friends in the world, we search out the most unique, most surprising and most loving in Nat Geo WILD’s popular Unlikely Animal Friends, returning Friday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m. ET/PT with all new episodes.

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This is what happens when skydiving sex gets you in trouble with the law

This is what happens when skydiving sex gets you in trouble with the law

Alesio Lanza, 44, thought he was on his way to fulfilling his threesome fantasy when he began chatting up two ladies at an LA bar — never guessing the tryst would end with him in the back of a cop car wearing only his boxer shorts.

His illicit encounter is just one of a dozen in the new Investigation Discovery series, “Sex Sent Me to the Slammer,” which premieres Friday at 10 p.m. and retells the sexual capers that led to run-ins with the law through risque re-enactments and first-person interviews with the lovebirds-turned-jailbirds.

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Frisky Turns Felonious on Investigation Discovery's New Series - Sex Sent Me to the Slammer, Premiering Feb 6

Frisky Turns Felonious on Investigation Discovery's New Series - Sex Sent Me to the Slammer, Premiering Feb 6

(Silver Spring, MD) - Don't let furry handcuffs turn into real jailbird shackles... that's the official warning from Investigation Discovery's new series, SEX SENT ME TO THE SLAMMER, premiering Friday, February 6 with back-to-back episodes at 10/9c and 10:30/9:30c. With Valentine's Day around the corner, couples will be tempted to turn up the heat on their bedroom antics, but this series cautions those sexual capers can lead to hot water with the law. Each episode features two darkly funny stories of people who literally get caught with their pants down while engaging in serious hanky-panky, or otherwise dare to tickle their fancy with sexcapades that end in not-so-sexy cuffs.
 

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‘Sex Sent Me to the Slammer’: New series details exploits that landed couples in jail

‘Sex Sent Me to the Slammer’: New series details exploits that landed couples in jail

On Feb. 6 Investigation Discovery is premiering the new series “Sex Sent Me to the Slammer,” which will detail the stories of people whose sexual capers ended in not-so-furry handcuffs. Each of the six episodes will feature two stories of lovebirds-turned-jailbirds, as told through first-person interviews and re-enactments.

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'Sex sent me to the slammer!' New reality series details the real-life escapades of couples whose kinky encounters landed them in jail

'Sex sent me to the slammer!' New reality series details the real-life escapades of couples whose kinky encounters landed them in jail

A new Investigation Discovery series is set to hit American screens, documenting the steamy escapades of couples whose sex lives have landed them in jail.

Sex Sent Me to the Slammer premieres with a six-episode run on February 6, and will profile 12 law-breaking sexual shenanigans in the form of first-person interviews with the participants as well as dramatic reconstructions.

Situations include an elderly couple who get busted fornicating in a parking lot, a virgin who ends up being arrested as part of an undercover prostitution ring, and lovers whose kinky role-play is mistaken for a real kidnapping.

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LA Times Feature: Insane Coaster Wars

'Insane Coaster Wars' returns for another worldwide thrill ride. The third season of "Insane Coaster Wars" takes viewers on another virtual world tour aboard 28 roller coasters in Europe, Asia, Central America and the United States.

While the 2014 lineup is somewhat less prestigious than the first two seasons, the seven-episode series on the Travel Channel more than makes up for the diminishing star power with a slate of lesser-known gems.

The drop-off in marquee names was inevitable after knocking off 50-plus rides in the freshman and sophomore seasons, with a roster that included El Toro, Millennium Force, Kingda Ka, Formula Rossa, X2 and The Beast. Indeed, the first two seasons read like the top 25 of the Amusement Today and Mitch Hawker polls, the two most respected annual rankings by coaster enthusiasts.

The third season focuses on record-setting rides known for height, length and inversions as well as the latest theme park craze: looping wooden coasters.

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