Now arriving: Grand Central Terminal @100

What’s happening in New York, Grand Central Terminal turns 100, NYC celebrations, landmark buildings, iconic architecture, GCT facade drawing

Happy 100th birthday Grand Central Terminal!

On Saturday, 2 february 2013, New Yorkers will celebrate the 100th birthday of the current Grand Central Terminal (GCT). It’s one of our most beautiful Beaux-Art edifices, a revered landmark, and one of my personal favorite spaces. The previous Grand Central Depot, the original Victorian station, opened in 1871.

A grand series of happenings
A full year of activities begins Friday, 1 february 2013. Ceremonies, exhibitions, entertainment, lectures, special offers, photo opps and more, help kick off the festivities including:

  • A rededication ceremony
  • A multimedia exhibit
  • Special 1913 pricing from GCT shops and restaurants (Only available 1 feb)
  • A commemorative USPS Express Mail stamp

What’s happening in New York, Grand Central Terminal turns 100, NYC celebrations, landmark buildings, iconic architecture, iconic ceiling
At midnight on 2 february 1913, the Grand Central’s doors opened to more than 150,000 people to marvel at its opulence and grandeur: The massive marble staircases, the iconic four-sided clock, and the magnificent fresco of the constellations soaring across the vaulted 125-foot ceiling.

Saving the Terminal
With the influx of cars, trucks and planes after the Second World War, Grand Central Terminal fell into decline as the railroads fell out of favor. By the 1970s, GCT was a dark, dusty, and dangerous dump. The building was nearly razed (the old Pennsylvania Station was razed) to build an office tower.

Jackie O steps in
In 1976, with the assistance of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grand Central Terminal was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1978, the US Supreme Court upheld New York City’s right to preserve historic buildings:

“The destruction of Pennsylvania Station led the city to pass the Landmarks Preservation Law and Grand Central was the second building designated as a landmark at that time,” said Anthony W. Robins, historian and former member of the Landmarks Commission.

A preservationist’s dream
One hundred years later, nearly 750,000 people whiz through Grand Central’s iconic halls each day, some heading to one of its 123 tracks and  traveling throughout New York and Connecticut – making it the largest hub for train traffic in the world.

Honoring Grand Central Terminal’s past, present and future
The first set of keys was handed to the Terminal’s station master on February 1, 1913 (the first train left the Terminal just after midnight on February 2). To commemorate the Terminal, events today, and throughout the year are guided by four themes:

  • Happy Birthday to Grand Central > Marking its historic first century
  • Preserving a Landmark and Creating a Legacy > Renovation of the Terminal’s 42nd Street entrance and other physical improvements
  • Grand Centennial Parade of Trains > Display of historic train cars and activities centered on the history of railroading
  • Grand Central: The Next 100 Years > Exhibits and public events exploring how this monument to American transportation continues to inspire innovations and improvements in travel.

Not-to-be-missed highlights

  • Look up to see GCT’s gold-leaf-on-cerulean-blue ceiling, designed by French artist Paul César Helleu in 1912.
  • The newly-renovated “Whispering Gallery” in front of the Oyster Bar: A visit to the station wouldn’t be complete without testing the new acoustics.

Check out some fantastic historical images of the terminal, and this informative timeline.

What’s happening in New York, Grand Central Terminal turns 100, NYC celebrations, landmark buildings, iconic architecture,

Images: Façade detail: Public domain / Ceiling detail, adapted from Arnoldius. File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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