Happy 110th, Grand Central Terminal!Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials on Feb. 2 celebrated the 110th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal, just days after it became the expanded house of the two busiest commuter railroads in the country, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
On Jan. 25, history was made when a LIRR train ran from Jamaica station to the new Grand Central Madison, bringing LIRR to the east side for the first time. Grand Central Madison, a facility the length of the Chrysler Building on its side, sits more than 100 feet below Grand Central Terminal’s lower level. Its opening “helps complete a decades’-long dream of a single complex serving two railroads and counties all over the region in one facility, uniting Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Putnam, Dutchess, the Bronx, Queens, and Connecticut all under one roof for the first time,” MTA reported.
The New York Central Railroad-built Grand Central Terminal opened its doors Feb. 2, 1913. In 1983, it became home to Metro-North Railroad and between 1994 and 1998 underwent a complete renovation under the MTA.
In 1975, the terminal was threatened by a redevelopment project but was rescued by the advocacy of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and approval by the United States Supreme Court. Today, 786 Metro-North trains operate in and out of the terminal daily, using 27 upper-level and 13 lower-level tracks. At the center of the 35,000-square-foot main concourse is one of Grand Central Terminal’s most recognizable icons: an information booth topped with a four-sided brass clock. On the exterior of the building resides a 14-foot Tiffany clock, which was installed in 1914.
“There are few buildings that stood the test of time and have as much history between its walls as Grand Central Terminal,” Metro-North President and LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi said. “From its acorn lightbulbs to its iconic clock, the Terminal is the heart of New York City. And now with LIRR operating service to the Grand Central Madison concourse, even more New Yorkers will have occasion to pass through the historic Terminal. As the years move on, many things in New York City will change, but Grand Central Terminal will be here.”
“Railroads come to mind first when you think of Grand Central, but the subway station actually predates the terminal, opening in 1904 as one of the original subway stations,” MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey said. “Today, Grand Central remains one of the busiest stops in the system, serving the Lexington Avenue and 7 lines, along with the 42nd St Shuttle, and will continue to carry New Yorkers for more decades to come.”
“My earliest reminiscence of being in Grand Central Terminal goes back to my childhood, when my parents put me on a train to go to summer camp aboard a New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad train,” MTA Board Member and Chair of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council Randolph Glucksman said. “I still remember how magnificent the surroundings were, as they continue to be to this day. I have been privileged to attend ceremonies that have been held in this wonderful space for various milestone anniversaries, along with ceremonies honoring one of GCT’s saviors, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and acknowledging John Bell and Peter Stangl, who were responsible for the renovation of this grand space.”
“Grand Central Terminal is truly the Grande Dame of transit hubs, and the nexus of the New York region in many ways,” Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA Lisa Daglian said. “This extraordinary terminal continues to grow and evolve with the times, showing that—even at 110—you can teach an old train hall new tricks. The Beaux-Arts beauty is now home to the largest transit network in the world, bringing together riders from Metro-North, the Long Island Rail Road and five subway lines, with connections to buses, taxis and so much more right outside its gilded doors, all while offering a huge variety of food and shopping options under its twinkly roof. It is particularly fitting that we’re recognizing Grand Central’s 110th birthday during Transit Equity Week as it begins bringing in even more riders from across the region to opportunity. …”
This story first appeared on the RT&S website; RT&S is a sister publication of Railway Age.