Grand Central’s Centennial

Months of special events highlight the grand old terminal’s 100th year

GrandCentral100years-logoI  spent a lot of my younger years on the New Haven Railroad between my home in southern Connecticut to New York and also to Boston, where I went to college. New York was closer and so I traveled through Grand Central Terminal countless times. I took the Grand Concourse for granted. It was grand, but the grandeur was hidden. What pulled the eye in those days was not the soaring ceiling painted with the constellations, the famous clock-topped information booth or the grand proportions. It was the huge advertising presence.

Life changed. I moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, taking the bus into Manhattan’s Port Authority bus terminal. And then, I moved to Colorado. My main connection with Grand Central was during American Society of Journalists & Authors board meetings and annual meeting — always at a hotel near the station. The long distance trains that once departed from the westernmost tracks with its own waiting room were history. The sturdy wooden benches had long since been removed from the 42nd Street side waiting room, which had been turned in exhibition and event space. Many ticket windows closed as ticket sales became ever more automated. The Lower Concourse now holds a food court.  Here are a couple of then and now photos:

Grand Central's Main Concourse, with the east-side windows and balcony obscured by a ginormous Kodak transparency and the arched doorway to the main waiting room featured a large Bulova clock.
Then: Grand Central’s Main Concourse, with the east-side windows and balcony obscured by a ginormous Kodak transparency and the arched doorway to the main waiting room featured a large Bulova clock (not visible in this image, but on the right).
The Kodak mural is gone (then again, so is Kodak), revealing the original tall arched windows, staircase and balcony. Travelers from a century ago would recognize the terminal.
Now: The Kodak mural is gone (then again, so is Kodak), revealing the original tall arched windows, staircase and balcony. Travelers from a century ago would recognize the terminal.

Grand Central Terminal has seen the best of times and worst of times, but unlike historic Penn Station across town, it was not demolished but has survived to celebrate its centennial. It was saved from the wrecking ball largely through the efforts of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.