Grand Central Terminal is radioactive.
Source: Original photo by f11photo/ Shutterstock
Next Fact

Grand Central Terminal is radioactive.

Next time you find yourself arriving at Grand Central Terminal, feel free to inform the person sitting next to you that the architectural landmark is radioactive — and, once their expression changes, be sure to also tell them that it’s only by a harmless amount. Located in midtown Manhattan, New York’s most-beloved transportation hub (sorry not sorry, Penn Station) was built between 1903 and 1913 out of granite, which contains higher levels of uranium than most other stones. Still, the levels aren’t all that high: The average person is exposed to 360 millirems of radiation per year, 300 of which come from natural sources, and Grand Central employees would absorb about 120 mrem at work over the course of a year.

Grand Central is the busiest train station in the country.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Close, but not quite — Penn Station, located just over a mile away from Grand Central, is the busiest train station not just in the country but in all of North America. Some 1,000 passengers alight and depart there every 90 seconds.

The building is also hardly alone in being radioactive. The U.S. Capitol Building, which is also made of granite, contains so much radiation that it would fail the safety standards required to be licensed as a nuclear power plant. (Fret not — your favorite member of Congress isn’t at risk.) When it comes to snacks, Brazil nuts have the dubious honor of being 1,000 times more radioactive than most other foods; luckily for anyone who picks them out of cans of mixed nuts, you’d have to eat about 50 every day to notice any ill effects. 

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Daily visitors to Grand Central
750,000
Platforms in the station, the most in the world
44
Amount the MTA bought Grand Central for from a private firm in 2018
$35 million
Grand Central’s rank on a 2007 survey of Americans’ favorite buildings
13
Grand Central Terminal was designed in the _______ architectural style.
Grand Central Terminal was designed in the beaux-arts architectural style.
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Think Twice
The world’s largest train station is in Japan.

Though it isn’t the busiest in the world — that would be Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, which serves 3.5 million passengers every day — Nagoya Station is the world’s largest by floor area: 4.8 million square feet. It’s so massive, in fact, that there are entire videos about what you can do there. From shopping and eating to housing the Central Japan Railway Company’s headquarters, it’s a destination unto itself. And at more than 50 stories high, it’s also the world’s tallest train station. 

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