Grand Central Terminal to mark 100 years

The MTA and Metro-North Railroad will celebrate the terminal's 100 years with a host of New York-based celebrities and dignitary appearances on Feb. 2 -- exactly 100 years after its official opening. Videojournalist: Charlie Eckert (Jan. 14, 2013)

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Even the most harried or jaded commuter will pause and breathe in the vastness and architectural delight of Grand Central Terminal, which is celebrating its centennial next month.

Whether it's the 50-foot arched ceiling and star constellation, the afternoon sun rays that stream through its wall-size paneled windows, the twinkling 22-carat gold-leaf chandeliers and gold clock, Grand Central Terminal's birth, near death and restoration continues to captivate the public.

"It's phenomenal," said Sylvester Gbewonyo, 42, of Manhattan, who shined his shoes at one of the terminal's shoe repair shops last week. "There is always a feeling in this building that makes me stop. No matter how rushed I am, I always look up at the constellation of stars."

The MTA and Metro-North Railroad will celebrate the terminal's 100 years with a host of New York-based celebrities and dignitary appearances on Feb. 1 -- exactly 100 years after its official opening.

On Feb. 2, 1913, The New York Times remarked that Grand Central Terminal was "a new amusement building . . . entering the broad, well-lighted vestibule with its wide marble stairway flanked by Doric columns the building itself is a noteworthy object lesson of architectural and engineering skill."

Today, Grand Central continues to be one of the world's largest terminals with 45 platforms and 63 tracks. More than 750,000 people pass through it daily.

An exhibit highlighting its public space and how it has served citizens throughout history will include images of tired World War II soldiers resting on cots and writing letters, to photos of family and friends hanging posters of loved ones missing on 9/11.

"We are creating a gigantic exhibit with light projections of massive images," said Gabrielle Shubert, director of the New York Transit Museum. "It will mirror the grandeur of this building and how it became the lifeblood of the city."

In the 1970s, saving the terminal from the wrecking ball was a life lesson for 71-year-old Kent Barwick, president emeritus of the Municipal Art Society of New York.

"In the 1960s, the public was not being consulted about our physical environment," he said, referring to the demolition of Penn Station, an architectural marvel that many still mourn today.

"This is a beloved space -- a remarkable piece of architecture that belongs to everybody," he said, remembering "the distinguished group of people" such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who used their clout to save and restore the terminal.

The centennial exhibit will be on display until March 15, along with free 15-minute tours. A host of cultural, art, dance and musical events also are scheduled throughout the year in commemoration of the station.

But those who use it frequently say they don't need a special day to celebrate it.

"When you walk into this building, you feel this calming. It's the beauty of its design," said Michael Gukowski, 47, of Manhattan. "It would be nice if the building projects of today could be as nice as this. There is no other building in the city that holds a candle to Grand Central."

Sara Goold, 59, of Westport, Conn., who has been commuting into the city for several decades admits she still gushes over the terminal's beaux arts design.

"I love this building. I always end up looking at the molding and its line of continuity. I love the ceiling. Every time I'm in this building, I am always grateful to Jacqueline Kennedy, who helped save this building," said Goold, who was in the terminal's Vanderbilt Hall watching dancers rehearse for a centennial performance.

"This hall always has exhibits and events from the Christmas shops to a day with Martha Stewart. There is always something creative here. There . . . [are not] many public spaces like this anymore."

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