The Campbell Apartment is a public bar and cocktail lounge located in a corner of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. It faces Vanderbilt Avenue. Contrary to its name, the space was never an apartment, but was once the office of American financier John W. Campbell, who served on the New York Central's Board of Directors.
The 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) space was first leased in 1923 by John Campbell from William Kissam Vanderbilt II, whose family had built Grand Central Terminal. The space was a single room 60 feet (18 m) long by 30 feet (9.1 m) wide with a 25-foot (7.6 m) ceiling and an enormous faux fireplace in which Campbell kept a steel safe. At that time, it was the largest ground floor space in Manhattan, Campbell commissioned Augustus N. Allen, an architect known for designing estates on Long Island and town houses in Manhattan, to build an opulent office, transforming the room into a 13th-century Florentine palace with a hand-painted plaster of paris ceiling and leaded windows. It also featured a quatrefoil designed mahogany balcony, that still exists today. One of the most striking features was a Persian carpet that took up the entire floor and was said to have cost $300,000 at the time, or roughly $3.5 million today. Campbell added a piano and pipe organ, and at night turned his office into a reception hall, entertaining 50 or 60 friends who came to hear famous musicians play private recitals. He had a permanent butler named Stackhouse.
After Campbell’s death in 1957, the rug and other furnishings disappeared from his office and the space eventually became a signalman’s office and later a closet at Grand Central, where the transit police stored guns and other equipment. It also became a small jail, in the area of the present-day bar.
After falling into disrepair, the space was restored and renovated in 1999. The walls and ceiling were brought back to their former glory and the original steel safe, once hidden behind a wall, now sits in the massive fireplace as a reminder of Campbell's wealth. The new bar is done in the same quatre-foil mahogany style as the balcony. The renovation cost an estimated $1.5 million. A 2006 renovation replaced a largely blue palette with a largely red one, including new carpet, bar stools and chairs. To avoid closing for even one night it took place in less than 12 hours and cost $350,000.
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- Ramirez, Anthony (March 5, 2007). "Threadbare to Quite Posh, in Just 12 Hours". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
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- New York Magazine
- The Apartment That Wasn't from the Museum of the City of New York Collections blog