16 Apr 2022


Thick Description Assignment: Cultural Analysis

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Case Study

Words: 1199

Pages: 4

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When a person sets out to study an animal or a plant they may observe and take note of their findings. Similarly, through observation one can learn a lot about individuals and societal norms within a respective cohort. Ever since the inception of trains in the 19th-century, train stations have become a fundamental part of the society. Initially, train stations were built with the intent of allowing passengers to alight and board; while giving the driver a well-deserved break. Nonetheless, humans are not such creatures to be limited to a particular logarithm, especially one which is so monotonous. Therefore, train stations over the years have turned into spots of cultural bloom; where people from all walks of life converge as they go about their business and daily routines. In my assumption, a perspective person may be able to deduce the culture of an entire town, city or even country just by taking note of what goes on in these terminals. 

In my study I happened to visit the Grand Central Terminal; a station whose grandeur and age has graced, even the noblest of aristocrats. The station was built to commemorate New York’s ascent in commerce back in 1913, while taking into account the city’s creativity with splendid architecture (New York Transit Museum, 2014). It is evident that the majority of people at the station are bound to be catching a train or leaving one. That is necessarily true for most of the individuals observed. However, Grand Central Terminal is much more than just a train station, thereby people, albeit the minority, were all about taking glances and only touring the place; while others came to shop or just came to have lunch. The interesting thing about these people is that the majority are glued to their phones or tablets for a long time. The station is overly populated and as such it was difficult to follow up on the activities of particular individuals. Grand Central Terminal is a unique, clean place; although there is an enormous black patch full of grime, whose aim is to show how the terminus looked before its restoration back in 1998. 

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Statistically, well over 700 000 people visit the station on a daily basis, meaning a generalization of individuals would be challenging. On a wider perspective all sorts of individuals can be found within the station’s walls, whether black, white, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist (New York Transit Museum, 2014). These include well-dressed employees rushing off to work, and the most casual travelers who view New York as a haven. From the observation, it was evident that New York contains very diverse inhabitants. The people who were present at the station represented multiple religions and cultures, painting city as a destination of an eclectic mixture of social concords. The unifying factor among the thousands of individuals was that everyone was moving, and more so in a hurry. Carlson (2015) articulates that the haste can be as a result of the ever busy work schedules that govern the lives of the residents of the city. Only on rare occasions did two strangers actually take the time to stop and interact. Interaction only existed between individuals who came in pairs or groups to the station. The lack of communication seemed as a result of the rush stated above. That is not to deny that a few exchanges took place, mainly due to the work of salespersons that were just doing their jobs. 

The Grand Central Terminal is massive regarding structure. From the entrance three large windows are observable which provide a huge proportion of the building’s light. Secondly, several screens that display the train schedules are on the walls. Positioned in the middle of the room is the central booking center, which also serves as a help desk for those seeking information on the respective routes. There consists of stairs that lead to an upper floor while others result in lower levels. Both the stairs are regularly flocked with individuals for the whole time I was present. What I have described is only the main entrance of the terminal. Due to its immense nature, it would require a near infinite amount of time to illustrate holistically. 

There are an uncountable number of physical objects that help to create a certain aura in within the atmosphere of the terminus. The station’s most iconic feature is perhaps the four-sided clock. It is made of brass and has an estimated value of over $ 10 million. The clock is set a minute ahead of the correct time so as to prevent passengers from being late. Can one minute actually prevent you from getting late? Another remarkable feature is the ceiling which portrays the constellation of the zodiac in a backward manner. A popular belief is that the stars were painted from God’s perspective in that he is looking from above. However, it is deduced that the masterpiece is as a result of careless painters (Weatherford, 2016). 

A set of unspoken rules governs the station even though there are really no regulations set in place. Firstly, even though everyone is in a hurry one might not much running in place. Reason being that running may cause unnecessary panic and accidents. Also, even if one can just about do anything within the Grand Central Terminal, there is an obligation for people to observe other individual’s space. For instance, before one makes contact with stranger, polite words such as “excuse me” are used by the many passengers; foreigners and citizens alike. Furthermore, the order is esteemed by many of the travelers i.e. people do not just cluster on a particular entrance or exit despite the teeming number of individuals. One of the security guards confided in me that on most days they just let the place run itself.

As stated earlier, such proper observations may lead to an accurate inference of the culture of individuals from a particular area. Therefore, would it be safe to articulate that New Yorkers possess the qualities as those portrayed in the Grand Central Terminal? A distinguishing feature of New York as a city is its large population of over 8 million individuals from diverse backgrounds (Carlson, 2015). In my study, I concluded that the terminus is used by as much as 700 000 people on a daily basis. Out of this many individuals, it was noted that many represented many races, groupings, and religions. As a result of this demographic approach, it is safe to say the observations would have brought a really close estimate as to what New York.

Moreover, the train station gave the impression that most of the passengers were busy due to the continuous haste. New York has always been a leading center in trade ever since it was founded in 1624. This is seemingly right as New York ranks highly regarding the busiest cities, both globally and in America. This justifies the rush depicted in the railway station and also supports my argument. Furthermore, New York possesses one of the most remarkable architectural feats the world has to offer examples include the Statue of Liberty and One Wall Street (Weatherford, 2016). This suggests that New Yorkers or more accurately those who build it value the importance of aesthetic features where buildings are concerned. The Grand Central Terminal is an architectural marvel in its own right, thereby in a small proportion it portrays the beauty that befits New York residents.

To conclude, the Grand Central Terminal represented a lot of aspects about passengers and visitors alike. These petite conclusions were reached by only a mere few hours of observation. So, if the time was increased or other methods were used, then there would be an infinite number of possibilities. Humans are strange beings, and when brought together our behaviors become even more unusual. Therefore, studying how we behave is imperative in understanding why people do the things they do and what can be anticipated from a person.


Carlson, J. (2015). Everything You Never Knew You Wanted To Know About Grand Central Terminal. Retrieved from http://gothamist.com/2015/05/12/grand_central_facts.php 

New York Transit Museum. (2014). Grand by Design . Retrieved from http://www.gcthistory.com/ 

Weatherford, K. (2016). Grand Central Station Guide. Retrieved from http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/grand-central-terminal-guide/. 

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