Grand Central’s history celebrated with fête

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, center left, and Bess Myerson (second l.) walk with architect Philip Johnson (l.) and U.S. Rep. Ed Koch as they leave New York's Grand Central after holding a news conference in 1975 for the "Committee to Save Grand Central Station." AP Photo/Harry Harris
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Visitors and commuters alike showed up in the thousands Friday during the morning rush hour to observe the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal, the venerable transit edifice.

The celebrants stood shoulder to shoulder along with hundreds of seated dignitaries and guests in the terminal’s vast Main Concourse, where “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon, songwriter/singer Melissa Manchester, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Mets great Keith Hernandez appeared on a makeshift stage in front of the Apple store.

The West Point Brass and Percussion Band started the program with a concert that included John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the world premiere of “Grand Central Centennial Fanfare.”

Caroline Kennedy, whose mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, played a leading role in the campaign to save Grand Central from partial demolition, said the former First Lady had been distressed at the destruction of Pennsylvania Station in the mid-1960s.

“When it came to Grand Central Terminal, it was too much,” Kennedy said. “She understood how great public spaces create community.”

In 1967 the terminal, which connects Queens to the East Side of Manhattan on the No. 7 subway line as well as rail service to Connecticut, Long Island and the regions north of the city, was landmarked by the city.

Among visiting guests were officials from the East Japan Railway Co., which will soon be 100, and London’s Underground, which shortly will observe its 150th anniversary.

Several speakers mentioned the decline of Grand Central Terminal in the 1970s and its renovation.

Peter Strangl, first president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said when the agency finally got some money, “the first thing we did was to repair the roof, which leaked.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Posted 11:20 am, February 5, 2013
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