Grand Central Terminal

A nation's regal station

Great public buildings don't dwarf people; they enlarge them. And for 100 years--it opened on Feb. 2, 1913--one of the greatest has been Grand Central Terminal in New York City. It was a conceptual bank shot. In a nation of wide-open spaces, it carried the American sense of nature's vast scale indoors, framed it in a serene Beaux Arts classicism and put both things in the service of a signature of the modern age, the railway. It is, by any measure, one of the most gracious public places in the world.

And we nearly lost it. In the late 1960s and...

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