What is surely one of the most famous railroad stations in the world, Grand Central Terminal, in New York City, turned 100 years old on February 1, 2013. It was not an easy century though. The famous Beaux-Arts landmark has seen it’s share of financial ups and downs, near-demolition and homeless invasions only to be saved time and time again by the good graces of New Yorkers.
Perhaps the closest we came to losing her was in 1968, when it was proposed that a skyscraper be built over the terminal. This was only four years after the famous Penn Station had been demolished, dispite a huge outcry from NYC citizens, to make way for the towering monstrosity known as Madison Square Garden. Loud protests against the destruction of New York’s remaining grand lady of the rails came from every corner of the city, the loudest of which was former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis:
“Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.”
It was partly due to her efforts that Grand Central Terminal was able to secure the historical landmark status which Penn Station was not able to get.
Today, after many faithful restorations, retail additions, and higher than ever volume, Grand Central Terminal is alive and heathy, proving once again that there is justice in the world, and that in the chest of even the most cynical New Yorker, beats the heart of a true sentimentalist.