NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Grand Central Terminal, once in danger of being demolished, celebrated its 100th birthday with speeches, a brass band and a rollback to 1913 prices when a slice of cheesecake might go for 19 cents.
The majestic Beaux Arts building is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and one of New York City’s most recognizable landmarks.
PHOTOS: Grand Central Centennial
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Grand Central “a treasure for New Yorkers” and a “symbol of all that is great in our city.”
“This building has been a vital part of this city’s growth,” Bloomberg said Friday. “It represents beauty and art, but also commerce and industry.”
A previous plan to replace the building with an office tower sparked a campaign by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other preservationists to have it declared a landmark. The fight for Grand Central went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1978 that cities have the right to protect historic buildings even if it limits the owner’s ability to develop or sell the property.
Onassis’ daughter, Caroline Kennedy, spoke at Friday’s centennial celebration in the terminal’s main concourse. She said her mother was proud to be part of the effort.
“She understood how great public spaces create community,” Kennedy said.
The celebration started with the West Point Brass and Percussion Band performing the world premiere of “Grand Central Centennial Fanfare.”
Tom Prendergast, the interim executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, called the terminal New York’s version of a town square.
Several of Grand Central’s businesses were offering 1913 deals for Friday’s birthday celebration, including a 75 cent cocktail at Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC and a 19 cent slice of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar.
Customers could also get a shoe shine at Leather Spa for 10 cents or pick up a loaf of rye bread for 6 cents at Zaro’s Bakery.
Other events at Grand Central include a multi-media exhibit of the terminal’s century-long lifespan.
Friday’s party takes place exactly 100 years after the keys to Grand Central were first given to the stationmaster on Feb. 1, 1913.
The celebration will continue with events throughout 2013, including a performance piece by artist Nick Cave in March and a parade of historic trains in May.
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