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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