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I will comment on its history, its visual splendor, and the work of the many people responsible for Grand Central as it is today in relation to this principle of Aesthetic Realism, stated by its founder, the noted American poet and critic Eli Siegel: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” It is the oneness of such opposites as matter and space, surface and depth, personal and impersonal, rest and motion, one and many that explain the beauty and efficiency of this much-admired railroad terminal, and these are the same opposites we want to put together in our lives! But as the primacy of railroads declined after the Second World War through intense competition by automobiles, trucks, and planes, Grand Central Terminal declined too. He loved trains and went to see them at many points around the city, including at Grand Central. It was a feat of meticulous organization, a making one of the opposites of one and many: of innumerable and disparate elements all designed to work for one purpose—just as each of us hopes to have all the elements in our lives go for a purpose we can be proud of. Wilgus devised a plan to manage the excavation and construction in stages by dividing the old terminal building, train shed, and train yard into a series of bites and having construction proceed one bite at a time. Does every instance of art and beauty contain something which stands for the meaning of all that is, all that is true in an outside way, reality just so?—and does every instance of art and beauty also contain something which stands for the individual mind, a self which has been moved, a person seeing as individual person? In Grand Central the personalities of tens of thousands of individuals mingle every day with the impersonality of geometry and space, bringing personal meaning to impersonal architecture, and impersonal meaning to human lives. And then Grrrand Centrrral Staaation—crossroad of a million private lives, gigantic stage on which are played a thousand dramas, daily. Whatever approach he uses, a traveler then enters that amazing interior space, the Grand Concourse, measuring 275 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 125 feet high. This great room is bordered by small lunette (semi-circular) windows with concave decorative moldings, located just below the ceiling. Here is where people arrange to meet, the focal point in the middle of the three-quarters of an acre of marble floor.
It is ironical that the concept of air rights, proposed by William Wilgus and used so beneficially 60 years earlier, would now destroy an important part of the iconic building.

2) Inside, the most visible effort was in the Grand Concourse: restoration of the great vaulted ceiling, which had become darkened by decades of grime, and cleaning the ornamental plaster rosettes that bordered it. 4) The long-planned stairway on the Lexington Avenue side of the Grand Concourse (proposed by Whitney Warren to match the one on the Vanderbilt Avenue side) was finally built. 5) New underground pedestrian access from 47th and 48th streets to the north ends of the train platforms and to the Terminal building was provided. 6) Electric power, heating and ventilation, and communications systems almost a century old had to be replaced or upgraded, and air conditioning installed. 8) The enormous brass chandeliers that rise above the balconies now occupied by restaurants were refurbished. 9) The former retail shops throughout the terminal were replaced with a great variety of new stores. 10) Decades-long water damage to walls and thousands of decorative details everywhere had to be meticulously repaired. 11) The lower level commuter concourse was partly remodeled to include an extensive food court with dozens of restaurants offering moderately priced international cuisines, imaginatively utilizing the former ticket booths for their kitchens and storage. 1  The Second Empire style in design flourished in France during the reign of Napoleon III (1852-1871) and was popular in the U.S. 9   The Beaux-Arts style was monumental in conception, using historic forms and rich decorative detail. 12  Pennsylvania Station boasted a monumental waiting room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling soaring 150 feet atop Roman columns. 15  Before ads blocked the Lexington Avenue balcony, I remember a full-size replica there of the DeWitt Clinton, an early 1830s locomotive with two stagecoach-like passenger cars.

2008-2009 Color photography by Amy Dienes, Faith Stern, John Stern; archival photography from the Internet. Der neue Bahnhof (im Bild 1930) rangierte in einer Reihe mit dem Pariser Eiffelturm und dem Kristallpalast in London. Siegel, referring to economics throughout the centuries, explained that “the private-public fight is a big thing in history.” That fight is going on worldwide between private profit for a few people and what is good for the vast public, for living, breathing human beings. 2   (It was in New York City and Iowa that he composed his beloved New World Symphony.) Was Dvorak affected by the freedom and precision of those fast-moving yet precise trains?
Do you think it would be better to add 5% to the meaning of people, add no %, or subtract 5%? I also learned that this fight affected every aspect of my life, including love, friendship, how I saw my family, and my work as an urban and regional planner. He wanted the people who used it to have, through the order of his design, the greatest ease and freedom in their travels, and this purpose was embodied in the terminal building, which was being constructed above the tracks. Siegel asked me, “Do you believe you would like to hide what you are?” The answer was Yes. Two proposals for the office tower were therefore rejected by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.
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