HISTORY Blog

Celebrating Grand Central’s Centennial

By History.com Staff

This week marks the 100th anniversary of one America’s most iconic structures—New York’s Grand Central Terminal. Originally built for the New York Central Railroad, it remains the largest railroad station in the world and, with more than 750,000 visitors a year, one of the busiest.

As we mark this landmark’s centennial, explore the history of Grand Central Terminal in photos and videos.

grand-central-centennial

  • An American Icon

    Today, 100 years after it first opened, Grand Central Terminal remains one of the busiest railroad stations in the world—with more than 750,000 visitors every year.
  • Grand Central Depot

    The current building is actually the third transit center to occupy the site. The first, known as Grand Central Depot, opened in October 1871.
  • Statue of Mercury, Hercules and Minerva

    Grand Central’s original owner, William K. Vanderbilt chose Mercury as the primary figure for the sculpture that adorns the building’s south façade. The Tiffany stained glass clock at the center is the largest in the world.
  • Main Concourse, 1913

    More than 150,000 New Yorkers attended the official opening of Grand Central in February 1913. (Getty Images)
  • Main Concourse Ceiling

    One of the most recognized parts of Grand Central is the astrological ceiling mural. What few visitors realize is that the stars of the galaxy were accidentally painted backwards. (iStockphoto.com)
  • War Bonds Display

    During World War II, Grand Central was a major transit hub for soldiers going to and returning from the front. There was even a branch of the USO set up in the station to provide entertainment for servicemen. (Getty Images)
  • Walter Cronkite in Grand Central broadcast room

    CBS News was one of several radio and television stations to broadcast from studios inside Grand Central.
  • Philippe Petit

    To commemorate Grand Central's 75th anniversary, French aerialist Philippe Petit crossed the main concourse on a tightrope. According to recent reports, he'll repeat the stunt in 2013 for the building's centennial. (Getty Images)
  • Keeping Time

    The massive clock atop the main concourse information booth is one of Grand Central’s most iconic features—and it’s worth an estimated $15-20 million.
  • Grand Central, October 2012

    An empty main concourse, as New Yorkers prepare for Hurricane Sandy. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

 


Find out everything you need to know with Grand Central Terminal: Deconstructed


Did you know that Grand Central is home to the largest Tiffany stained glass clock in the world?


Find out more about the iconic clock in the middle of Grand Central.


Did you know that Hitler once sent spies to destroy the Grand Central train system?

Categories: Grand Central Terminal, New York City