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What’s So Grand About Grand Central Terminal?

grand central terminal night new york city

Despite a recent push to move forward quickly on plans to build Moynihan Station within the Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue in Midtown, this dream deferred will have to wait a while longer. The good news is this delay gives the public a chance to weigh in on how the state should spend what could add up to $1.5 billion of public money. The time to speak up is now.

What makes Grand Central so grand? Take this survey and let us know what lessons Moynihan Station should learn from the success of Grand Central. Also, take a few minutes to read our newest position statement on Moynihan Station.

Despite the setbacks, the dream of a magnificent Moynihan Station lives on. The project could get a green light as early as June 2007. Our new governor-elect, Elliot Spitzer, has expressed his support for a concept advanced by the project’s developers, Related Companies and Vornado Realty, that would rebuild and expand the station on both sides of Eighth Avenue. While intriguing, the expansion plan might involve the construction of a new Madison Square Garden within the walls of the Post Office.

Today, Grand Central Terminal is a must-see for tourists visiting the city. It is routinely ranked among the world’s greatest train stations. But not long ago, it was groaning under years of neglect. How did it make the transition from grimy to glorious?

The structure’s original owner, the New York Central Railroad, sought to solve its long-running financial difficulties by topping off the terminal with an office tower. The MAS successfully led the fight against that plan, and the MTA’s Metro North took control of the facility in 1983. Under its direction, the terminal underwent a 15-year restoration program culminating in Beyer Blinder Belle’s masterful refurbishment of the interiors.

The first step was to clean away years of dust and dirt, and conduct basic repairs. Then, structural improvements began in earnest. The Great Hall’s light fixtures and constellation images were repaired and a new staircase to the East Balcony was added. Redesigned pedestrian ramps and passageways, along with modern electronic schedule boards, made access to trains easier. New waiting areas closer to the tracks reduced the frequency of stampedes to platforms. And finally, Metro North filled 50,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space with amenities for travelers and Midtown workers.

Our elected officials have promised the public that Moynihan Station would restore dignity to rail passengers arriving and departing from Manhattan. Now, a private development team is telling taxpayers they’ll need up to $1.5 billion and much of the space in the Farley Post Office to realize this dream. Grand Central’s revival teaches us what visionary leadership can achieve. New Yorkers are counting on our leaders to guarantee that the new station learns the positive lessons of Grand Central while rejecting the tragic mistakes of what is now called Penn Station.