Thursday, 19 July 2012

Grand Central Terminal, New York, U. S. A.

Grand Central Terminal officially opened on  February 2, 1913, and more than 150,000 people visited the new terminal on its opening day.  Although construction was not yet entirely complete, Grand Central Terminal had arrived and New York City would never be the same again.

All the while, it remained the busiest train station in the country, with a bustling Suburban Concourse on the lower level and famous long-distance trains like the Fast Mail, the Water-Level Limited, the Wolverine, and the Twentieth Century Limited departing from its Main Concourse.  In 1947, over 65 million people -- the equivalent of 40% of the population of the United States -- traveled the rails via Grand Central Terminal.

By the early 1950's, as post-war America transformed itself into a nation of suburbs and automobiles. In 1954, the railroad resolved to make the most of its assets, commissioning plans to demolish Grand Central Terminal. Nothing came of this plan.  But in 1958, the railroad concluded negotiations to demolish the six-story office structure at the Terminal's rear and replace it with the 59-story Pan Am Building.  Completed in 1963, the Pan Am Building sealed off Park Avenue, completely obscuring the Terminal from uptown.  Concurrently, the interior of the terminal was being parceled out for billboards and commercial advertising, in an on-going effort to increase revenues.

On August 2, 1967, New York City's recently established Landmarks Preservation Commission -- formed in response to the demolition of Pennsylvania Station -- designated Grand Central Terminal as a landmark, subject to the protection of law.  In December 1976, the National Register of Historic Places named Grand Central Terminal as a National Historic Landmark.  

In 1994, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gained long-term control of Grand Central Terminal in the form of a 110-year lease. A comprehensive revitalization plan based on the Master Plan for Grand Central Terminal was put in place.  Construction began in 1996. The revitalization project culminated with a gala Rededication Celebration of Grand Central Terminal on October 1, 1998.  This event garnered both national and international media attention, and marked the beginning of a new chapter of this venerable New York City landmark.

The Grand Central Terminal has been completely restored back to it's 1913 splendor. Grand Central has become an international example of a successful urban project that gave new life to an historic building which otherwise would have been discarded and destroyed.

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