- Posted February 2, 2013 by
New York City, New York
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Grand Central Station: The Terminal Turns 100
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Grand Central Terminal, referred to simply as Grand Central by New Yorkers, serves nearly 200,000 commuters daily and according to a 2011 issue of Travel & Leisure magazine is the world's sixth most-visited tourist attraction, hosting more than 20 million visitors annually.
But had Jackie Kennedy not lent her considerable prestige and energy to its preservation in the 1970s, Grand Central would have almost certainly faced the wrecking ball, as Pennsylvania Station did before it. To celebrate its reprieve, thousands of people gathered today to pay homage to this architectural gem from the dawn of the last century.
Luminaries from diverse walks of life from politics to sports to the arts also turned out to sing the praises of the 100-year-old terminal to its 125-foot-high rafters. And while you may not find Caroline Kennedy, former NY Met Keith Hernandez, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins sharing a banquet table very often, their strong connection to this Beaux Arts treasure was the common denominator that brought them here today.
Equally eclectic was the afternoon’s entertainment. Indeed how often can you enjoy ballroom dancing by nearly 100 students from 10 New York City schools followed by a performance by the Knicks City Dancers, a high school jazz band, and an octet from the Westchester Philharmonic?
The festivities were not limited to the Main Concourse either. Downstairs on the Dining Concourse some restaurants rolled back items to 1913 prices. Long lines were a good clue as to where you could find a 10¢ shoeshine, a 6¢ loaf of rye or a 5¢ cup of coffee. The Post Office on the lower level marked the occasion as well, offering an envelope with a new commemorative stamp and a special first-day-of-issue cancelation mark. One woman said she waited on line for two hours to buy one.
Grand Central has seen soldiers leave and return from war, served as a setting in more than 30 movies, and in Catcher in the Rye a locker here was used by Holden Caulfield to store his bags. Today, people stood on the Tennessee marble floors by themselves or in groups and cherished their own memories of this magnificent building.