On a recent evening, those admiring the terminal included a group of docents from the Municipal Art Society who were training to give public tours. Their varied reasons for becoming volunteer guides show how passionate many New Yorkers remain about Grand Central, 100 years after it opened.
Robert Depczenski said his interest in telling Grand Central’s story to visitors was inspired in part by the destruction in the 1960s of another beautiful train station — the original Pennsylvania Station, which was torn down to make way for Madison Square Garden and the current Penn Station. Another volunteer tour guide, Liza Whiting, says she enjoys letting visitors in on Grand Central’s fun secrets, like the whispering gallery, the hidden staircase and the black spot on the ceiling. And Diane Pagen decided to become a tour guide because of a personal experience: During a time when she struggled with depression, visiting Grand Central always lifted her mood.
Those who've felt Grand Central’s magic say it’s no surprise that it still inspires strong emotion. The building is not only ‘‘grand and elevating with the Beaux Arts architecture representing the height of high culture,’’ said Roberta Lane, senior New York field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. ‘‘It also just really appeals to people on a personal level.’’
If You Go...
GRAND CENTRAL CENTENNIAL: Located on 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. Yearlong centennial celebration starts Feb. 1 that will include exhibits, art installations and other events; http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/centennial/
—Municipal Art Society will begin daily 75-minute tours Feb. 1, 12:30 p.m., $20 ($15 for military, seniors, children and MetroNorth riders). Tickets will be sold from a booth in Grand Central’s main concourse and online at http://mas.org/. Audiotour rentals available also.
—Downloadable audiotours and apps: http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/info/tours