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Star Gazing in Grand Central

Grand Central Terminal ceiling thumbnail - Photo by Lisa McGee via Flickr/lambatofa

On Monday, the stars in Grand Central Terminal’s sky ceiling were once again shining. For several months, electricians have been installing energy efficient LED lights, which are now burning bright, just in time for the holiday season. Having helped save Grand Central Terminal in the 1970s, we at MAS are particularly pleased that the mural designed by J. Monroe Hewlett in 1913, has not only been preserved, but also updated with the latest efficient technology available.

Originally, the mural depicting the zodiac used incandescent bulbs to light the 59 largest stars in the constellation, but changing the bulbs in the 125-foot ceiling proved to be a difficult, and labor intensive, feat. When the mural was restored in 1997, a fiber optic lighting system was put in place, but within ten years, many of those lights had dimmed or faded out.

Last year, MAS urged the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to fix the lighting system as it is such an important part of the terminal’s history. “We applaud the MTA for heeding our advice, and once again casting light on this iconic work of art. The newly installed LED lights are not only functional, using about 60% less energy than the fiber optics and lasting five years, but they also serve as a great example of how preservation and sustainability can be thoughtfully integrated,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla.

Whether passing through the terminal or rushing to get a train, take a moment to look up at the stars.