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Celebrating Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial: The 100 for 100 Project Events History Photos

Provided you haven’t been living under a rock recently, you may have heard that Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial is fast approaching. While Metro-North will be kicking off celebrations in February, I thought it would be more fun to get the party started now. That’s why I Ride the Harlem Line will be counting down the next 100 days to Grand Central’s Centennial with a historical photo of the Terminal. That’s right – 100 historical photos, posted one per day, for the next 100 days. I like to call it the Grand Central 100 for 100 Project. While there will, of course, be a few iconic photos in the mix that you’ve certainly seen before, I’m hoping that the majority of them you haven’t seen. It is a great way to visually explore the history of the Terminal, and to see Grand Central in a new light.

Grand Central is truly a monument of New York City. Not only is it functionally important – a great example of what a train station should be – it is architecturally significant, and paramount, an important precedent for historical preservation in the United States. Besides all that, Grand Central means a lot to me – and this is one of the few ways a lowly commuter interested in history such as myself can celebrate it. Grand Central, and its Centennial Committee, plan to hold their festivities on the first of February – which seems entirely appropriate – for the committee contains the rich, and the famous. Grand Central unofficially opened on the First of February in 1913 – not to the public, but to the rich and the famous. It was not until the gorgeous Information Booth clock’s hands moved to midnight, commencing the new day of February 2nd, that the Terminal opened to the public. Thus, February 2nd is the day that our project will be counting down to, one photo at a time.


A poster advertising Grand Central Terminal’s opening on February 2nd, 1913.

Our photographic countdown will be comprised of nine different topics, with the photos in each moving in a roughly chronological order. Posting a new photo on the blog every day doesn’t seem to be the best format in which to present these images – thus I’ve decided that the better place to post them all will be on social media. Facebook and Twitter are conducive to sharing – and I want you to share these photos. I want everyone to celebrate Grand Central and its 100th birthday – for it is our monument, not just a pretty building for the privileged.

Part 1: Construction of Grand Central Terminal
Thursday, October 25th

Part 2: Outside views, and the Changing Urban Landscape
Sunday, November 4th

Part 3: Waiting for the Train
Saturday, November 10th

Part 4: Trains in the Terminal
Sunday, November 18th

Part 5: Famous Faces
Friday, November 30th

Part 6: Around Grand Central
Sunday, December 9th

Part 7: The Main Concourse
Saturday, December 29th

Part 8: Noteworthy Events in the Terminal
Wednesday, January 9th

Part 9: Grand Central Terminal, Restored
Thursday, January 24th

So today, we begin. The first photo, and all subsequent photos, will be posted daily at 11 AM. Make sure to like or subscribe over on Facebook, or follow @mtaHarlemLine or the hashtag #100for100GCT on Twitter to see all the photos. There is also an unofficial countdown clock on the top of this site, which will link to the project photos, and count down to the centennial. We’ll also be celebrating with other Grand Central-themed posts over the span of the next hundred days, and will have something special on Grand Central’s birthday, February 2nd. Let the festivities begin!

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Comments
  • Jeff M.:

    GREAT idea! You’ve hit a home run, as usual.

    I am really impressed with that poster. The layout and design, the use of type (look at how the simple switch to small caps makes New York City stand out!), the spacing — it’s nearly perfect. The care that had to be taken to put that together in an age of hard type is unimaginable.

    (An ironic note: the previous terminal stood for only a dozen years. Though, to be fair, it looks pretty ugly.)

    Hey! Love your countdown clock, but I’m surprised you didn’t make it look like a station display!

    • Haha, that would have been a cool idea. The site already takes enough time to load since it is so image-heavy, and the countdown probably wouldn’t have helped much!

      As for the old poster, some of the type is actually fixed up. When I can photoshop out imperfections and such, I try to do it.

  • Al Cyone:

    I agree. Great idea.

    Looking at the old poster I found myself wondering, for the first time, if the “Central” in Grand Central Terminal referred, not to its location in the center of Manhattan as I’d always assumed, but to its association with the New York Central railroad (just as Pennsylvania Station was named for its railroad). Any ideas?

  • Al Brecken:

    CG ; Dick Carpenter , who is a staff-member of the SONO Switch Tower Museum has a valuable collection of original GCT construction photos. One shows what I guess is the “East Limit” of this marvelous , “can’tbe duplicated” engineering achievement ; a foundation wall that parallels Lexington Ave.

    I perceive the “base” of the GCT contruction as a rectangular ” box” with West / South / East side , an “open” on the North side. All the trackage is contained in the “Box” with the East side abutting Lexington Ave. and the South side abutting 42nd St.

    It would be interesting to know how far the South side extends to the West; possibly M – N can establish a “Forum” hosted by M-N people with acess to original GCT plans and documents.

    CG . I compliment you on your splendid contribution to this most laudable project , and if you want to contact Dick , who is an expert on RR Signal Towers — dcarpenter1371@aol.com

  • Larry Dawson:

    When the book is published, I want 5 copies.

  • Daniel:

    My wife and I will be heading to Grand Central on Feb 2nd for the big event.

  • Daniel:

    We went on Saturday to the exhibit in Vanderbuilt Hall. It was fantastic to see all the pictures and some of the refurbish lamps, chandeliers and the new plans to make that new extension for L.I.R.R. trains to Grand Central.

    I have to admit that I almost cried when I was looking around, because it was all so beautiful. Such a grand old station. Proud to be a New Yorker when I go to GCT.

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