One hundred years ago today, Grand Central Terminal in New York City opened to the public for the first time. At the time it opened, it represented the visions and dreams of its creators. At its simplest, it was a way for the owners to take advantage of new technology, electric rail, to bury their tracks and allow buildings to be created over the site of their old rail yard. But this simple premise prompted the building of a beautiful new station, stores and offices to surround it, and brought people to work and shop at those buildings. A rail station which, previously, was mostly used to transport goods into and out of the city became a major hub for people from Connecticut and Long Island to visit the city for work or leisure.
Quite literally, it helped create the Manhattan that we think of today. Without Grand Central, there would have been no development along Park Avenue, and many of the iconic buildings that now exist there... wouldn't exist at all. Midtown and the east side of Manhattan would not have developed as a center for commerce, retail, and entertainment.
It is almost shocking to think that forty years ago, it almost got torn down. People who lacked vision had seen Grand Central slowly decay. Lacking the money and the will to restore it, they wanted to tear it down, keep the station buried underground, and build a modern office building above it. Having seen a similar fate befall Penn Station, on the west side of town, New Yorkers fought to prevent the same from happening to Grand Central. In the aftermath of a long legal battle that saved the building, the people of the city came together to achieve a new vision for the station.
There are differences, to be sure. The version of Glass that I saw today will be very different than its counterpart 100 years hence, while Grand Central is fundamentally the same as it has been for the past century. But as Grand Central has adapted over time to meet the needs of a changing city, so will Glass. And as much as Grand Central was the seed of that change... so does Glass have that same potential.
How will we know? The answer lies in three four letter words: Time will tell.