Celebrating Grand Central, Then and Now

One hundred years ago, a set of keys was handed to the station master of the new Grand Central Terminal, and one day later, Feb. 2, 1913, The New York Times heralded the terminal’s opening with an eight-page special section.

“One Signal Tower Controls Seventy-Nine Acres of Tracks”

So read the headline over one of many articles praising the technological wonders and modern luxuries of the terminal. Among other things, the new terminal marked a change to electric trains from the days of steam and diesel.

Free of noxious fumes, smoke and steam, the new tracks and train yards could be buried in tunnels under Manhattan’s streets, creating the spectacular breadth of Park Avenue we know today and defining a new Midtown that had been divided by street-level rail yards. Many advertisements in the special section were for real estate in the newly accessible and open neighborhood.

On Friday, a daylong slate of events are scheduled at Grand Central to celebrate the terminal’s big birthday.

The special section in 1913 included articles that focused on different aspects of the vast new terminal. One praised the modern luxuries:

“…if hair gets out of curl in a damp day’s journey the woman passenger may go to the women’s hair dressing parlor in the Grand Central Terminal, a magnificent apartment with walls and ceiling of Carrara glass, where not but her own sex will see while she has her hair dressed in the very latest style.”

Other articles mentioned logistic and architectural highlights, including the series of ramped walkways, rather than stairways, easing the movement of baggage, and, of course, the new kissing galleries:

“Slightly elevated it is promised that they will offer exceptional vantage points for recognition hailing, and the subsequent embrace. Time was when embracing went on all over the terminal, and the indignant handlers of the baggage trucks would swear that their paths were forever being blocked by leisurely demonstrations of affection. But we have changed all that.”

We’ve gathered the pages from 1913 into a package that can be browsed below. The special section is available to download in a highly legible form.

Or print it out for an authentic re-creation of the 1913 newspaper reading experience.

Download the Special Section (PDF)

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