National Geographic : 2005 Dec
NEW YORK. NEW YORK Broken watch? You can find a quick fix at Central Watch Band Stand, where Larry Kivel (above, at right) has worked for 40 years. Terminal traffic is great for business, says Kivel, whose father opened the shop in 1952. One level down, the Lost and Found gets more than 200 cell phones a month (below), a hint at the daily rush of people short on time. moving troops, that's why." The elevator door creaks open. Brucker dashes out, leading me into a dim room lined with humming steel boxes, the pow er plant for all rail traffic in the terminal. On one of the boxes I notice a little half-dollar-size red button with a modest label, Emergency Stop. Pressing the button would halt all movement on all tracks. Brucker eyes me as I look longingly at the red button. "Please, don't even think about it"' he says. "Do you really want to make 125,000 people late for dinner?" In Grand Central things are lost and found too. Nineteen thousand bits and pieces turn up in Lost and Found each year (of which more than 60 percent are eventually reunited with their owners). Like sherds of pottery in Pompeii, they describe the lives that course through the terminal. There are cell phones and iPods and umbrellas; there are diamond rings and bicycles and false teeth and books. Once an urn of human ashes was found (left deliberately by a woman whose dead hus band disguised his extramarital affairs by saying he'd fallen asleep on the train); once a pair of earlobes (left by a plastic surgeon); once a mournful (but later reclaimed) basset hound. Mike Nolan, the Lost and Found maestro, is tagging an errant Black Berry when I stop in. He puts it aside to show me one of his favorite unclaimed items-a scale-model toy train, still in its box. It was, we decide, probably a gift that never found its way home. "Imagine," Nolan says, turning it around in his hands, "leaving a train on the train." 0 WEBSITE EXCLUSIVE Find more 10017 images, field notes, Terminal atngm.com/0512. r Terminal at ngm.com/0512.