VIPS, CELEBRITIES LAUNCH A YEAR OF CELEBRATION
The METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK (MTA) and METRO-NORTH RAILROAD will open GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL to the public on February 1, 2013 for the celebration of its 100TH ANNIVERSARY with a full day of activities, including a morning public rededication ceremony and musical performances that will keep visitors entertained well into the evening. These events fall 100 years to the day that 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.)
Grand Central Terminal stands as one of America’s greatest transportation hubs and one of New York City’s most iconic buildings. It is both a national institution and an international example of giving new life to an historic building that may otherwise have been destroyed. Over the course of a colorful and tumultuous 100-year history, Grand Central has gone from being simply the start and end points of long-distance rail travel, to being the iconic home of Metro-North Railroad and a destination for commuters, tourists and residents that boasts restaurants, cocktail lounges, a gourmet market, and numerous specialty shops. Its storied Vanderbilt Hall, once the receiving area for travelers, is one of the most-desired public events spaces in the city.Grand Central Terminal has long been recognized as a landmark, particularly for the architectural achievements of its Beaux-Arts façade on 42nd Street and its main concourse, one of New York City’s greatest public spaces. However, the railroad station is as much a triumph in civil engineering as it is in architecture, a little-known fact because the much of the engineering that went into constructing the terminal is largely hidden from public view—including its massive underground two-story train yard. This is because New York Central Railroad chief engineer William J. Wilgus had a brilliant idea to take advantage of the change in power from steam to electricity and use the new concept of “air rights” to construct revenue-producing buildings over the rail yards, helping offset the project’s enormous cost.
Completed in 1913 at a cost of $80 million, Grand Central was hailed as the largest and greatest railway terminal in the world. The terminal encompassed a total area of 69.8 acres (two and a half times the size of New York’s Pennsylvania Station), has 123 tracks including had 46 with platforms (more than double amount of Penn Station), and included 30 platforms (compared to 19 at Boston’s South Station and 16 at St. Louis’ Union Station). Within the terminal building, separate concourses were provided for incoming and outgoing long-distance trains, and suburban trains to avoid friction between opposing flows of passengers, who reached the different levels of the underground terminal using ramps. The station has been able to efficiently handle enormous growth over the years with virtually no major structural changes.
The new terminal took nearly a decade to build; its construction was complicated by the need to maintain train service throughout the entire period to the existing Grand Central Station, which was used by 75,000 to 100,000 passengers daily. For this reason, construction was divided into twelve sections — new portions of the terminal were placed in service as soon as they were completed so that parts of the old station could be taken out of service and demolished. The new terminal included an all-electric signal system, the only one in the U.S., and the longest amount of mainline railroad electrification in the nation.
The 1963 demolition of cross-town neighbor Pennsylvania Station served as catalyst for an architectural preservation movement within the United States. Grand Central Terminal was subsequently designated as a New York City Landmark in 1967 by the city’s newly formed Landmarks Preservation Commission. When Penn Central’s plans to develop a skyscraper of 50 stories atop Grand Central Terminal were rejected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1968 and drew public opposition (most notably from former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), the railroad filed suit against the landmarks law. This case was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the law in a landmark 1978 decision (the first time the court ruled on historic preservation). The move led to the protection of other landmarks across the nation.
Under Metro-North’s management, the Terminal saw a two-year, $196 million restoration project that included cleaning of the main concourse ceiling, construction of an east staircase, and conversion of the main waiting room into an exhibition hall. The restoration, finished in 1998, was financed by the addition of 65,000 square feet of retail space including restaurants and a dining concourse on the lower level. Along with MTA, Metro-North has developed the Terminal into a unique retail offering, further developing its own success as a brand name for service excellence.
With the planned completion of Metro-North’s East Side Access project into Grand Central – including a new concourse and platforms for Long Island Railroad trains– Long Island commuters will be able to travel directly to Manhattan’s east side, extending the impact and importance of Grand Central Terminal.
The February 1st morning ceremony will feature elected officials, high-profile celebrities and VIPs, and performances by award-winning musicians and New York students. Throughout the day—which is hosted by METRO-NORTH, THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM and other partners—members of the public can enjoy live performances, national award presentations, sponsor giveaways, special retail deals, and the opening of “GRAND BY DESIGN,” a spectacular six-week exhibit that chronicles the history and impact of New York’s greatest building and one of the world’s most famous train terminals. The February 1 events are presented with support from Target.
TARGET is the presenting sponsor of the Grand Central Terminal Centennial celebration. Additional sponsors include THE WESTIN NEW YORK GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL, global commercial real estate services firm CBRE, INC., New York-based food brand CARVEL CORPORATION, and COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL. WABC-TV and THE NEW YORK TIMES are media partners.
Well-known names and faces will wish the Terminal a happy birthday that morning. The day kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a concert by the WEST POINT BRASS & PERCUSSION (including “Grand Central Centennial Fanfare,” a new piece written for the occasion). Speakers, performers and activities at the 10 a.m. public ceremony include New York City resident CYNTHIA NIXON; former U.S. Poet Laureate BILLY COLLINS, who will read an original poem commissioned by MTA ARTS FOR TRANSIT; author and preservationist CAROLINE KENNEDY whose mother JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS is widely credited with saving the Terminal from destruction in the 1970s; Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress MELISSA MANCHESTER; members of the Vanderbilt family whose ancestor “COMMODORE” CORNELIUS VANDERBILT inspired the construction of Grand Central; baseball MVP KEITH HERNANDEZ; the CELIA CRUZ BRONX HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR; and several special presentations, including a surprise “sweet” delivery that caps off the event.
February 1 also marks the opening of “GRAND BY DESIGN: A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL,” a major new exhibition produced by the NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM that showcases, in dramatic multimedia fashion, the history and impact of Grand Central in its first century. “GRAND BY DESIGN” reveals how the iconic building shaped modern New York and still determines its future and will runs through March 15, 2013. A companion book, GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL: 100 YEARS OF A NEW YORK LANDMARK, by New York Transit Museum staff and author ANTHONY W. ROBINS, will be published February 1.
Activities continue in GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL‘s MAIN CONCOURSE throughout the day with appearances by: youth performers from NYC-based DANCING CLASSROOMS who were featured in the award-winning documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom“; acclaimed contemporary dance company KEIGWIN + COMPANY; performances by the KNICKS CITY DANCERS and KNICKS CITY KIDS dance teams; LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER WESTCHESTER‘s Grand Central Terminal replica made from than 5,000 LEGO bricks; electronic violinist and TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA soloist SARAH CHARNESS; and a closing performance by Grammy Award-winning band VINCE GIORDANO AND THE NIGHTHAWKS (“Boardwalk Empire“).
Retailers throughout GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL will participate in Centennial celebrations February 1, offering free giveaways and special deals to shoppers throughout the day, as well as select items sold at 1913 prices (i.e. five-cent cups of coffee).
The GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION will continue throughout 2013, with a wide variety of events and activities that underscore the Terminal’s impact on New York, as well as the history and enduring appeal of rail travel. Full details are available at www.grandcentralterminal.com, and on Facebook (facebook.com/GrandCentralTerminal) and Twitter (@GrandCentralNYC and #GCT100).
SOURCE: METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK; METRO-NORTH RAILROAD
Web Site: http://www.grandcentralterminal.com