Grand Central Station Celebrates 100 Years

Grand Central Station Celebrates 100 Years

New Yorkers are marking the 100th birthday of Grand Central rail terminal with a brass band, speeches and a cake modelled after the main concourse's famous clock.

Friday's commemoration is taking place exactly 100 years after the station master was given the key to Grand Central, located in midtown Manhattan.

In honour of the milestone, the station's shops were charging 1913 prices: 10 cents for a shoeshine and 19 cents for a slice of cheesecake.

Built by the Vanderbilt family in the Beaux Arts style with grand staircases, chandeliers and its multi-million-dollar clock, the iconic terminal remains one of the world’s top tourist attractions while still serving New York's suburban commuters and straphangers.

Some 750,000 people pass through Grand Central every day.

Tom Prendergast, the interim executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, called the terminal New York's version of a town square.

But the building narrowly avoided the wrecking ball in the 1970s, when the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis led a campaign to save it from being torn down to make way for an office tower.

The fight went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in 1978 that cities have the right to protect historic buildings even if it prevents the owner from developing or selling the property.

Mrs Onassis' daughter, Caroline Kennedy, was set to speak at Friday's celebration in the terminal's main concourse.

Other scheduled speakers include Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, former Mets baseball star Keith Hernandez and former poet laureate Billy Collins.

"It's not easy to last 100 years in a city of constant change," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, kicking off the event.