Friday, February 1, 2013

100th Birthday of New York's Grand Central Station

Grand Central Terminal (by Diliff,/CreativeCommons)
Today the celebration started of Grand Central Terminal's 100th birthday  in New York City. Grand Central, as it's commonly known, is one of the largest railway stations in the world, serving as the leading train commuter hub in the U.S. and being the world's number six most visited tourist attraction with over 21 million visitors annually. Besides serving as a major transportation center in the middle of Manhattan, it is also a magnificent building, which is a pleasure to visit. As a New York resident living on walking distance from Grand Central, I often use it for many different purposes, not just catching the subway which connects the East side of Manhattan with its' West side, but also to buy international newspapers in one of Grand Central's extensive newspaper stores or to enjoy oysters (or Dutch herring when in season) at the famous Oysterbar, or to buy christmas gifts at its December Holiday Fair. 

Although the predecessor-building of Grand Central originated in 1871, the current building was built in 1913 by the architectural firms Reed and Stern, and Warren and Wetmore, creating what would become...............

a landmark building featuring beaux-arts design and an impressive celestial ceiling in the main concourse. Entering Grand Central is like being in a huge cathedral with access to the skies. Due to its iconic nature and photogenic imagery, Grand Central has been used in many movies, Hitchcock's North by Northwest not being the least of them. 

In its hundred years history, Grand Central had been threatened by multiple plans for demolition or adding new structures on top of it. One of those plans in 1968 was successfully defeated in no small measure through the intervention by Jacqueline Kennedy who said at that time:

 "Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe…this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won't all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes."

In that same year, Grand Central became an official "landmark" and now in 2013 it's celebrating its well-deserved anniversary.

                            New York Mayor Bloomberg speaking on the Centennial

For background reading:

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