100th Anniversary of Grand Central Terminal

Every New Yorker should know that there is no Grand Central Station in New York City, but there is a Grand Central Terminal. The distinction, and the point that confuses many, is that a station is a particular place that a train (or many trains) passes through while on its way to a destination. A terminal, on the other hand, is a massive yard that is the end location for all the trains on every line. Grand Central, then, is definitely a Terminal and not a lowly station. If you still want to go to Grand Central Station you can as it’s the name of the post office located nearby.

Grand Central Terminal, which opened to the public on February, 2 1913, was the pride of the city at the time. It was a feather in the cap of Manhattan and gave the city bragging rights around the world as one of the biggest, grandest terminals ever built in modern era. In the early 20th century rail travel was the preferred method of travel in the United States, and one of the top destinations for many was New York City. Interestingly enough, Grand Central Terminal was almost destroyed to make room for a new office building in the late 1950’s. By then the allure of train travel had been replaced by a new invention, the automobile, and the glory days of rail travel were grinding to a halt. The fledgling air industry was also taking a big chunk out of the train industries business, especially for a booming post-war America flush with discretionary income. Adding to the Terminal’s problems was the fact that prime real estate in Manhattan was spiking in price, and the profits of rail travel were quickly falling through the floor. Grand Central seemed doomed to be destroyed to make room for more office space. But to the rescue came the former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, and the New York Landmark Preservation Commission. In 1967, thanks to their efforts and a lot of donations, Grand Central Terminal was designated a national landmark and temporarily protected by law, squashing the development plans. The case eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court before permanently blocking the project and preserving one of the world’s greatest train stations... um, terminals.

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