Although some may linger to check out the architecture, sample some goodies, buy a drink or simply watch the multitudes weave their way across the grand concourse, many people use Grand Central Terminal solely as a way station, a place to pass through on their journeys.
But, beginning Friday, Feb. 1, and lasting through year's end, the terminal will be a destination in and of itself.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York and Metro-North Railroad will kick off the 100th anniversary celebration, with a day full of activities, performances and other special events.
Friday's festivities begin with a performance by the West Point Brass and Percussion band, which will lead into the 10 a.m. opening ceremonies with such luminaries as actor Cynthia Nixon, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, preservationist Caroline Kennedy and singer Melissa Manchester.
Later in the day, dancers from multiple companies will perform, musicians will play and a replica of Grand Central Terminal made from Lego bricks will be unveiled.
A new exhibition, "Grand by Design: A Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal," will be on view in Vanderbilt Hall, running through March 15.
Produced by the New York Transit Museum, it uses a multimedia presentation to convey the history and impact this major transportation hub has had on the city in its first 100 years, and how it may shape it in the future.
Featuring photography, installations, projections and artifacts, as well as video and audio, it is a comprehensive view that took about two years to create.
While not a traditional chronology, Gabrielle Shubert, director of the New York Transit Museum and co-director of the Grand Central Centennial Committee, said the exhibition focuses on the terminal's history, its impact on the city's development -- particularly midtown, its engineering feats and the various activities that went on in the building over the years.
"Grand Central is like a town square for New York City," Shubert said. "People really do commune and come together there in crisis and celebration ... and we have examples of that throughout its 100 years."
Even a quick look through the photos is a visual history of changing norms, revealing changing fashions and the ways people communicate with one another.
"This is going to be an exciting and dynamic kind of show," Shubert said.
Some future activities include an art exhibition from March 6 to July 7, featuring artists who "capture and reimagine the passage of time during Grand Central's first 100 years." Nick Cave will present an installation and performance piece of 30 "horses" that will spend a week from March 25-31 in Vanderbilt Hall.
Other events include poetry and music events, lectures, a parade of trains (May 10-12), docent tours and the opening of a new entrance. Throughout the festivities, information booths will be located in the terminal to assist visitors.
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Grand Central Terminal, 15 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, N.Y. Friday, Feb. 1-end of 2013. Free. For a full list of activities and details on the 100th anniversary celebrations, visit http://www.mta.info/gct/birthday.html.