This February will mark the 100th Anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal. The following excepts are from a press release from the MTA on January 17th:
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA) and Metro-North Railroad open Grand Central Terminal to the public on February 1, 2013 for the celebration of its 100th Anniversary with a full day of activities, including a morning public rededication ceremony and musical performances that will keep visitors entertained well into the evening. The morning ceremony will feature elected officials, high-profile celebrities and VIPs, and performances by award-winning musicians and New York student performers. Throughout the day, which is hosted by Metro-North and partners including the New York Transit Museum, members of the public can enjoy live performances, national award presentations to the Terminal, giveaways from sponsors, special deals from Terminal retailers, and the opening of “Grand by Design,” a spectacular six-week exhibit that chronicles the history and impact of New York’s greatest building and one of the world’s most famous train terminals.
These events fall 100 years to the day that the first set of keys was handed to the Terminal’s station master on February 1, 1913. (The first train left the Terminal just after midnight on February 2.) To commemorate both the past, present and future of Grand Central, events on February 1 and throughout the year are guided by four themes: Happy Birthday to Grand Central, marking its historic first century; Preserving a Landmark; Creating a Legacy, focused on renovation of the Terminal’s 42nd Street entrance and other physical improvements; Grand Centennial Parade of Trains, anchored by a rare public display of historic train cars with public activities centered on the history of railroading; and Grand Central: The Next 100 Years, featuring a variety of exhibits and public events throughout 2013 that will explore how this monument to American transportation continues to inspire innovations and improvements in travel.
Commuters and visitors to Grand Central on opening day will experience the Terminal decked out with red carpets at several entrances that harken back to the days of luxury long-distance rail travel, spectacular decorations in the Main Concourse including a 20-foot-high number “100” installed in the east side windows, Terminal employees donning new uniform patches to honor the occasion, and music from the MTA’s “Music Under New York” program wafting through the hallways starting at 8 a.m. Event staff and information booths will be located throughout the Terminal to help visitors navigate the day’s activities.
More than a dozen well-known names and faces will wish the Terminal a happy birthday from a stage erected in the Main Concourse. The day kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a concert by the West Point Brass & Percussion (which culminates in “Grand Central Centennial Fanfare,” a new piece written for the occasion), and presentation of colors by West Point’s Cadet Color Guard, followed by a 75-minute opening ceremony (hosted by WABC-TV’s Sade Baderinwa) at 10 a.m. Among the speakers, performers and activities at the ceremony:
- award-winning actress and New York City resident Cynthia Nixon;
- former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, who will read an original poem commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit for the occasion;
- author and preservationist Caroline Kennedy, Honorary Co-Chair of the Grand Central Centennial Committee whose mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is widely credited with saving the Terminal from destruction in the 1970s;
- Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester, who will perform solo and with a choir;
- members of the Vanderbilt family whose ancestor “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt was the visionary behind railroading’s “gilded age” and inspired the construction of Grand Central;
- baseball MVP and New York Mets World Series Champion first baseman Keith Hernandez;
- the Celia Cruz Bronx High School Choir; and
- several special presentations, including a surprise “sweet” delivery to cap off the event.
Elected officials are scheduled to appear, along with Metro-North President Howard Permut, Acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer, Interim MTA Executive Director Tom Prendergast and Grand Central Centennial Committee Chairman Peter Stangl.
MAJOR EXHIBITION “GRAND BY DESIGN” OPENS
February 1 also marks the opening of “Grand by Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal,” a major new exhibition produced by the New York Transit Museum that showcases, in dramatic multimedia fashion, the history and impact of Grand Central in its first century (the exhibit will be open Feb. 1 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Filling Vanderbilt Hall with projections and larger-than-life photography, free-standing installations, authentic artifacts and digital docents—as well as new and historical audio and video—”Grand by Design” reveals how the iconic building shaped modern New York and still determines its future. The exhibit runs through March 15, 2013 (additional details below).
A companion book, Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark, by New York Transit Museum staff and author Anthony W. Robins, will be published February 1. It traces the Terminal’s history and design, showcasing public and hidden wonders from the well-trod Main Concourse to the massive power station hidden ten stories below ground. More than 200 photographs – some archival, some by retired Metro-North Railroad photographer Frank English – capture nearly every corner and major moment of the world’s most famous railroad terminal. With an introduction by author and historian Tony Hiss, the book will be available at the “Grand by Design” exhibit store, the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store in the Terminal, and at numerous retailers.
Performances continue in Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse throughout the day and into the evening (with a short rush hour break from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Among the performers and activities:
- Dancing Classrooms, whose 100+ youth performers were featured in the award-winning documentary film “Mad Hot Ballroom”;
- acclaimed contemporary dance company Keigwin + Company;
- performances by the Knicks City Dancers and Knicks City Kids dance teams;
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester unveils its MINILAND exhibit’s replica of Grand Central Terminal, made completely of LEGO bricks;
- the Westchester Philharmonic Brass Octet;
- cast members of the upcoming musical “Orphan Train“;
- Staten Island’s Susan Wagner High School Jazz Band;
- electronic violinist and Trans-Siberian Orchestra soloist Sarah Charness;
- New York City’s Rhythm Collective, which will play music in a variety of styles to keep Terminal visitors dancing; and
- a closing performance by Grammy Award-winning big band Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.
TERMINAL RETAILERS PARTICIPATE
Retailers throughout Grand Central Terminal will participate in Centennial celebrations February 1, offering free giveaways and special deals to shoppers throughout the day, as well as select items sold at 1913 prices (i.e. five-cent cups of coffee). More details about these offers will be available at grandcentralterminal.com and on the Terminal’s Facebook page: facebook.com/GrandCentralTerminal.
Centennial posters commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit, with artwork by Pop Chart Lab, Olive Ayhens, Lothar Osterburg and Marcos Chin, will be available for retail purchase at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store.
MTA, METRO-NORTH EXECUTIVE COMMENTS
“As a native New Yorker, I lived through the dark and dingy days of Grand Central Terminal, when people dared not linger,” says Acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer. “I lived through the scourge of subway graffiti and a broken transportation network. The restoration of this great public space is symbolic of the renaissance of New York City and its transportation system. Hats off to Grand Central Terminal and the visionaries who made it possible!”
“The soaring space of Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse inspires locals and visitors alike and is the closest thing New York has to a town square,” says Interim MTA Director Tom Prendergast. “The major investments of the past 15 years by Metro-North and its parent, the MTA, has restored its luster and cachet, and prepared it for another century of service.”
“MTA Metro-North Railroad takes pride in its stewardship of this great Terminal, which is truly at the center of New York,” said Howard Permut, President of Metro-North. “From the custodians to the rail traffic controllers, from the carpenters to the ticket sellers, Metro-North employees strive to keep Grand Central looking good and functioning smoothly as they move nearly 700 trains safely and on time each day and serve nearly 750,000 visitors daily with its distinctive activities and retails offerings. We look forward to providing excellent service for the next 100 years.”
CENTENNIAL CONTINUES THROUGH 2013
The Grand Central Terminal Centennial celebration continues throughout 2013, with a wide variety of events and activities that underscore the Terminal’s impact on New York, as well as the history and enduring appeal of rail travel. Among the year’s highlights:
- Feb. 2–March 15, 2013 — Grand By Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal (8 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily, Vanderbilt Hall in GCT) — This multimedia exhibition, organized by the New York Transit Museum, continues through March 15, 2013 in Grand Central’s historic Vanderbilt Hall.
- March 6-July 7, 2013 — On Time/Grand Central at 100 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Mon – Fri; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at GCT) — Curated by MTA Arts for Transit, this exhibition features more than a dozen contemporary artists who capture and reimagine the passage of time during Grand Central’s first 100 years. Includes work by Penelope Umbrico, Jim Campbell, Paul Himmel, Lothar Osterburg, Alexander Chen, Dara Friedman, Ian Dicke and more.
- March 25-31, 2013 — Nick Cave: Heard-NY (time TBA, Vanderbilt Hall in GCT) — In a groundbreaking installation and performance piece by internationally acclaimed artist Nick Cave, thirty colorful “horses” take up residence in Grand Central Terminal and periodically break into movement. Choreographed exclusively for the Terminal, this is Cave’s first public project in New York City. Co-presented by MTA Arts for Transit and Creative Time.
- April 10, 2013 — Keeping Time/Poets & Musicians Honor Grand Central (7 p.m., Vanderbilt Hall in GCT) — A free special event featuring poets from the re-launched Poetry in Motion program including Billy Collins, Aracelis Girmay, Jeffrey Yang and others, and performances by Music Under New York musicians that highlight the cultural inspirations of the world’s most famous train terminal. Presented by MTA Arts for Transit and the Poetry Society of America.
- April 11, 2013 — Grand Central Talks (12 noon, 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., Vanderbilt Hall in GCT) — Authors, experts and historians discuss the development and construction of Grand Central Terminal, and consider the changes it made on New York City and the transportation industry. Organized by Metro-North Railroad and the New York Transit Museum with assistance from the New York Public Library.
- May 10-12, 2013 — Grand Centennial Parade of Trains Weekend (time TBA,Vanderbilt Hall and select platform tracks in GCT) — Visit Grand Central for a weekend filled with the return of historic trains (including the 20th Century Limited) that travelled in and out of the Terminal and across the country in the heyday of luxury rail travel. Also featured: Metro-North Railroad equipment past and present; “railroadiana” displays and exhibits; and interactive family fun that will appeal to transportation enthusiasts of all types.
- May 22, 2013 — Grand Getaway Day (Vanderbilt Hall in GCT) — Metro-North Railroad presents a showcase of the hottest vacation getaways available in its numerous destinations in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.
- July 27-Nov. 3, 2013 — The Next Level: Photographs by Hiroyuki Suzuki (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon – Fri; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store at GCT) — The future of New Yorkers’ travel patterns in the next century is under construction now at Grand Central Terminal, eighteen stories beneath the ground. This behind-the-scenes look at the East Side Access project features captivating photos by Hiroyuki Suzuki.
Additional events in 2013 will include:
- Winter 2013 – New Grand Central Tour Program – Metro-North Railroad will offer a new docent-led daily tour of Grand Central Terminal that complements the agency’s official and popular audio tour program. Additional details to be announced.
- Summer 2013 — Preserving a Landmark; Creating a Legacy — This summer, Metro-North Railroad unveils and dedicates a restored entrance to the Terminal at 89 E. 42nd Street. Additionally, resulting from a collaborative effort with the New York City Department of Transportation and the Grand Central Partnership, exterior enhancements will be completed on the Pershing Square viaduct at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Additional details to be announced.
For railfans, probably the most anticipated event will be Grand Centennial Parade of Trains weekend, which will coincide with National Train Day over the weekend of May 10-12. While no formal list of equipment has been announced yet that will be displayed, it is safe to assume that some of the equipment that made it to last year’s National Train Day display will be back, including private car Hickory Creek, the blunt-end observation car that carried the markers for the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited. Also mentioned was “Metro North’s equipment both past and present,” which may include the two inspection cars MN-1 and MN-2, which were former observation cars on the Erie-Lackawanna’s Phoebe Snow.
For more information on the terminal’s celebration, you can check out their website and Facebook pages: