February 1st, 2013
05:30 AM ET

Grand Central turns 100

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @SkastenbaumCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, or on SoundCloud, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – New York’s Grand Central Terminal turns 100 years old today. The iconic train station on Manhattan’s 42nd street remains a popular destination for commuters and tourists alike. Three-quarters of a million people pass through the majestic building everyday.

[2:13] “It is not only beautiful and an architectural treasure as you can see, but it is an enormously well functioning room,” said Peter Stangl, Chairman of the Grand Central Terminal Centennial Committee.

[1:22] “Even during rush hours you very seldom see people bumping into each other… There’s a magic dance that people do coming through here. It doesn’t matter how crowded it is. It’s fascinating at times.”

Memorable moments in Grand Central's 100 years

It’s amazing that the terminal still exists. Built in 1913, it nearly fell victim to the wrecking ball, but was saved by a landmark preservation movement spearheaded by Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. Stangl says a massive project in the 1990’s restored Grand Central to its original grandeur.

[4:29] “What we tried to do in the restoration was to, first of all, maintain it as a functioning railroad station, secondly, to restore both the parts you can see and the parts you can’t see.”

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soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. palintwit

    So what are the Tea Party Patriots going to do now that their fearless leader has been broomed from Fake News?

    February 4, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

      They will wander aimlessly around their trailer parks like lost little zombies.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. obamaliar

    great place. I was there 9 days after 9/11

    February 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CBoy

    I grew up in rural southern Vermont and I remember as a child walking into Central Station on my first visit to New York and being awed by the scale and beauty of it all. When I think of other places that conjured up similar feelings, I can't help but think of seeing the green grass inside Fenway Park in Boston for the first time. These are magical cultural milestones that thankfully people had the foresight and sense to preserve. We would all be poorer had these treasures been discarded.

    February 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom Vogler

    Buildings like Grand Central Station represent nothing more than hoarding in the public sphere. We would be better served if we demolished useless structures and replaced them with useful things no matter how loudly the architectural snobs/hoarders of the commons squealed.

    February 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony Antin

      Aw, C'mon. For 40 years, almost daily, I walked through the wonderful space of Grand Central on the way to my office in the (then called) Pan American building, which, incidentally was built almost on top of the grand old station. And I am not an architectural snob, but I love fine old buildings.

      February 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherri

      Luckily those in Europe do not think the way you do or we'd have nothing to go see. Unfortunately too many DO think like you. In my town, they tear down everything over 50 years so we have almost nothing historical to see. Old buildings are our history. They represent where we've been, who we were, who we are becoming. They can also mean lots of tourist dollars as others want to see them and will pay to see them. As a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan, I'm glad that many of his buildings were not torn down, even though some are over 100 years old.

      February 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • duane

      Luckily for us the extent of your influence is rambling on cnn's web page.

      As a tourist who visited the place - Long live the station and the 500,000 who pass through daily.

      February 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yossarian

      Fortunately Tom's incompetent rants do not affect public policy regarding such structures.

      February 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      I'm all for progress, but we must conserve some history. I'm not fan of people who try to protect everything as historical sites. However GCS seems to be one that should be preserved.

      February 3, 2013 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      Hey Tom, Et Al:

      It's a terminal, not a station.


      February 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Big Fish

    And to think it nearly had the fate as Penn Station – demolished to build hideous structures. Decent citizens of NYC stood up against the busy-fingered, shadowy, rodent-looking NYC property developers.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Christine Cresencia Ngo BALNEG

    Just wanted to introduced myself and say I am a big CNN buff and love current events and astrology. I am a capricorn so I am a goat and petsistent, stubborn, and pristine. If you want a live interview call me at 909-684-3930,
    Christine C. Balneg of Arlington Way

    February 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tron777

    Did you know you recieve a higher than normal dose of radiation from working tthere?

    February 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • tokalosh0

      Aliens abduct people there because, statistically because so many pass through each day, no one notices.

      February 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tango

    Why are the written highlights so biased? Why mentioning JKO and not mentioning the person (Vanderbilt) that made it all possible? This morning I heard on PBS a far better story than this one.

    February 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pzanga

    I always loved Grand Central. This quote, "Even during rush hours you very seldom see people bumping into each other… There’s a magic dance that people do coming through here", reminds me of the scene in The Fisher King where the rush hour crowd transforms into everyone dancing with each other. One of my favorite movie scenes and captures that quote perfectly.

    February 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tara

    My brother Steven has worked as a carpenter and all-round special events builder in Grand Central Station for more than 25 years. He always has an interesting story to tell.

    Happy Birthday, Grand Central! We hope you are still standing and looking exactly the same in another 100 years!

    February 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ellid

    The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were a cultural wasteland in terms of architectural design, and the 1980s weren't much better. Losing Grand Central would have been a catastrophe – it's a magnificent building, perfectly suited to its function and its site.

    February 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snowdogg

    I travel to Grand Central several times a year and appreciate the beauty and convenience of the terminal.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Big Al

    Great. Now let's renovate Penn Station so it is fit for humans.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Chad31

      The real shame about Penn Station is that they tore down the original structure in the early 1960's to make way for Madison Square Garden. Just another glaring example of how we demolished our architecture heritage in the destructive 1960s and 70s...

      February 1, 2013 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
      • skastenbaumcnn

        @Chad31 It was the demolish of the old Penn Station that led to the saving of Grand Central. While the current Penn Station cramped, dank and unappealing, the old Penn Station wouldn't have been able to handle the number of commuters who use Penn Station today. As it stands right now the current Penn Station is well over capacity. I wish the old building was still with us but the city's leaders still would have had to do something to expand the station over the years. Thanks for listening to my story.

        February 1, 2013 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
        • skastenbaumcnn

          typo correction – demolition, not demolish.

          February 1, 2013 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
        • Tyler

          I agree, while we lost a great station it did put a stop to the demolition to other buildings with architectural significance. However this country has lost its ability to create great "classic" designed buildings which may or may not suit the needs of a modern society.

          February 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
        • ellid

          I'm with Tyler. Just contrast an Art Deco skyscraper like the Chrysler Building with a 1960s glass box like the Metlife Building. Our buildings today are too often big, ugly, and designed more for appearance than function.

          February 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |