Grand Central Terminal centennial celebration kicks off Feb. 1

The famous opalescent clock keeps time at the The famous opalescent clock keeps time at the center of the main concourse in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. The country's most famous train station and one of its finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in America turns 100 on Feb. 1. (Jan. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Grand Central Terminal completes its first 100-year dash Feb. 1, with a day of activities designed to be much more fun than dodging the guy running late for the 5:27 to White Plains.

The Metro-North Railroad and its parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority -- the terminal's steward agency -- are planning a yearlong centennial anniversary celebration that kicks off Feb. 1 with a morning rededication ceremony, musical performances, discounts from retailers and the opening of "Grand by Design," a six-week exhibit dedicated to the history and impact of the famed train station, the MTA said in a statement Thursday.

On Feb. 1, 1913, Grand Central Terminal's station master was given the first set of keys to the terminal. The first train left the station in the wee hours of Feb. 2, just after midnight.

This Feb. 1, the West Point brass band and color guard will kick off the festivities at 9:30 a.m., followed by a 75-minute ceremony featuring speakers and performers including:

• Actress Cynthia Nixon of "Sex In the City" fame.

• Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, who will read an original poem commissioned by the MTA's Arts for Transit program.

• Author and preservationist Caroline Kennedy.

• Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester.

• Former Mets star Keith Hernandez.

• Descendants of railroad pioneer Cornelius Vanderbilt.

At noon, Metro-North officials will receive a series of formal recognitions for the terminal, including one from the U.S. Postal Service, which will unveil its new Grand Central centennial stamp.

Performances will continue in the main concourse into the evening, with a break from 4 to 6:30 p.m. And some will have a Westchester County flair. Among the featured performers/activities:

• Dance company Keigwin + Company.

• The Knicks City Dancers and the Knicks City Kids dance teams.

• LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, which will unveil its Miniland exhibit's replica of Grand Central, made completely of LEGO bricks.

• Trans-Siberian Orchestra electric violinist Sarah Charness.

• The Westchester Philharmonic Brass Octet.

• Closing performance by Grammy-winning big band Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.

In addition, retailers throughout Grand Central will offer giveaways and special deals throughout the day, including select items sold at 1913 prices, such as 5-cent coffee.

Visitors will see the terminal decorated with red carpets at several entrances, a 20-foot-high number "100" in the east side windows and music from the MTA's "Music Under New York" program sounding throughout the hallways starting at 8 a.m.

The celebration will continue throughout the centennial year with a variety of events, activities and exhibits saluting Grand Central's impact on New York and the history of rail travel.

More information on this year's events is available at the terminal's website, facebook.com/GrandCentralTerminal and via Twitter at @GrandCentralNYC and #GCT100.

You also may be interested in: