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Grand Central Terminal, one of my absolute favorite places on earth, turns 100 this weekend (the doors of the now-iconic rail station opened to the public at 12:01 A.M., February 2, 1913). To celebrate the centennial, I’m reprising something I wrote back when we published Positive Thinking magazine.
Some people grumble when life gets hectic, “It’s like Grand Central Station around here!” I’ve never understood why that’s a bad thing. I know having too much going on can drive your stress level up. But it’s hard for me to have negative thoughts about Grand Central. To me the landmark railroad terminal is a symbol of adventure, connection and wonder.
I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, a town at the end of a commuter rail line that runs into Grand Central. My mom loved to take me on outings to the city. We’d ride the train in, then go to art museums, window-shop or have dim sum in Chinatown (sometimes all three!). It didn’t really matter where we went. The whole city seemed magical to me, and Grand Central, befitting its name, was the locus.
In high school I made day trips to New York City with friends. Sometimes we’d each go off on our own but we converged at Grand Central’s information booth with its four-sided clock to ride the train home. “Meet you at the clock,” we’d say. It’s still a point of connection for me, where I meet friends to head up to Yankee Stadium, or coworkers to go to our office in Connecticut. What amazes me is that droves of people agree to meet at the same place at the same time, yet we all manage to find each other.
Still, it’s when I look up that I’m most amazed. Twelve stories above the swirling crowds is the famous ceiling, obscured by decades of grime until it was cleaned in the 1990s, revealing a breathtaking painting of the night sky with the constellations backward, a celestial map in reverse (some say the artist wanted to depict a God’s-eye view of the universe). That probably bothers astronomers but it reminds me that if you take a moment to look up, you just might see something that takes your breath away.
Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).