Grand Central Terminal, a world-renowned historical landmark, celebrates a legacy of 100 years today. Millions of people have frequented the halls of this iconic building for multiple reasons. It has served as a connection to their next destination, a meeting place by the famous $10 million clock, or a “must-see” jewel to visit while in New York. Events and performances were scheduled all day to remember the history and wonder of the world’s most famous railroad terminal, the growth to its magnificent modern presence, and how its impact will shape the future of New York. With combined efforts of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA), Metro-North Railroad, and more than a dozen of actors, speakers and performers, Grand Central Terminal was honored today. Events will continue throughout 2013 making it an unforgettable centennial celebration.
Opening ceremonies commenced with a moment of silence for former Mayor Ed Koch who died earlier on Friday. A concert by the West Point Brass and Percussion followed along with a song by Melissa Manchester. Honorary Chair of the Grand Central Centennial Committee, Caroline Kennedy, recognized her mother’s efforts in saving the Terminal from destruction. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis believed the building added to the city’s beauty and culture, and fought to preserve it from being demolished and replaced with a skyscraper. Onassis’ persuasion helped to form the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission which saved the Terminal.
One of the major exhibits that opened today was produced by the New York Transit Museum. “Grand by Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal” showcases the history and impact of the Terminal in its first century. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester made a replica of LEGO bricks for display. Retailers offered special deals on select items throughout the day.
Notable dignitaries highlighted their own personal connection to the Terminal and what rail transportation signifies to the city and the rest of the world. Grand Central Terminal was not always full of all the glamour with marble staircases, glittering chandeliers and fancy shops. A walk through the Terminal in the 1970s and 80s screamed disrepair, graffiti, homelessness and crime. A massive restoration began in 1994 returning the space to its original grandeur as in 1913. The completion in 2000 gave way to maintaining it as a functioning railroad, above and below the ground, and creating a world-class mecca of shops, markets and restaurants. Grand Central has been perfect for filming dozens of movies over the years.
The future of Grand Central Terminal is to include a lower concourse and a tunnel for commuters from Long Island. Whether you are a commuter rushing to work, a tourist stopping to takes pictures, or a father taking his son on the train to buy a black and white cookie at Zaro’s Bakery, one thing is certain: New York City would not be the same without this symbolic treasure on East 42nd Street.
Happy 100th Birthday Grand Central!