Friday, January 29, 2016


Nothing says New York as exquisitely as Grand Central Station, a jewel in the city's necklace that was almost lost like a dropped earring. It was only the determination of a woman known for her pearls that Grand Central Station still exists.
"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe... this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won't all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes."
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
With this the historic preservation movement in New York City gained its feet remaining a true defender of our history so that we as a nation do not forget our architectural past.
Grand Central still bustles with travelers chasing after trains in and out of the city.
It amazes and amuses young and old with its Transit Museum.
Conductors still stand sentinel, helping guide the flow of traffic to their destinations.
Men in fedora hats still stop to have their shoes shined now with the 21st century addition of convenient computer screens to help pass the time while a profession that still requires a human shines their shoes.
The Oyster Bar has regained its glory that is as old as the terminal itself.

Newer restaurants from The Shake Shack
to Magnolia bakery have come to join it in the food court that sprawls across the lower level.
The four-sided central clock continues to be a favored meeting place for friends and lovers. "Meet me by the clock in Grand Central".
Most tickets are now purchased at ticketing kiosks or online but the ticket windows in the main floor still remain open with their beautiful brass grillwork.
The cost of a newspaper is no longer a nickel but the news shops still dot the corridors stretching through the terminal
The trains still pull in and exit on the largest track system in the world.
The ceiling has been restored to its celestial glory rubbed clean of the nicotine that had stained it into a cloud of oblivion.  Rick's Tidbit:
Soon after it was painted the astronomical ceiling design was discovered to be painted backwards! The Vanderbilt family was apprised of this snafu and to save massive amounts of money they fabricated the story that it was painted as if seen through the eyes of God.
And the lights of Pershing Square still glow from under the Park Avenue overpass.
Change is constant and needs to be welcomed with open arms but without a link to the past there would be no sense of progress. Each generation deserves to make its mark on the world so that new generations can see what has happened and draw from it to make a new future.
I hadn't intended on doing a piece on Grand Central. I was only walking through on my way from the Westside to the East when this gate caught my eye. I stopped being one of the masses rushing through the main terminal. I was struck in the same way I would be seeing a beautiful flower in a massive garden. It was the beauty of the detail, the fragrance of a single flower. The saying goes, "Stop and smell the roses". Once I stopped I was struck by the beauty of all the small pieces that make up Grand Central and from there it was another hour before I could leave having taken the time to walk each hallway and track trying to grasp that sense of history that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wanted all of us to see and to cherish.
I only just escaped the snowstorm that crippled the East Coast last week. I left New York on Wednesday before Jason blew in and turned the city to a dangerous but beautiful winter wonderland. I know the devastation to the people of coastal New Jersey and those stranded for hours on highways immobilized by the storm is a tragedy but for those lucky enough to be safely at home, a fire burning in the fireplace, a stack of unread magazines now available for perusal while wrapped in a well-worn throw, the storm gives permission to indulge in doing not much of anything more than shear indulgent relaxation. Missing the storm and going back to Madison where snow is common and rarely the cause for being stranded made me a little envious of the friends I left back in the city.
Grand Central Terminal, 1930
Hal Morey, photographer
Getty Images


  1. Replies
    1. You're always so gracious to comment. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm sitting in New York right now once again waiting for a plane back to Madison.