THE “NEAR-DEATH” OF GRAND CENTRAL. Lee Bryant, knowing that, as I posted here, Grand Central is one of my favorite buildings, sent me this article by Kevin Baker in Harper’s about the narrow escapes that the building had during the period 1954 to 1980. I read in the newspapers about the court battles and the architectural proposals for the building during periods when I was walking through the building almost every day. Grand Central had been threatened in 1954 when its owner, the New York Central Railroad proposed replacing the building with a 108 story building designed by I.M.Pei. The fight over that proposal wound up with a smaller skyscraper, the Pan Am building, looming over Grand Central. Like Grand Central, the Pan Am building is located at a center of pedestrian traffic. I walk through it often when I am going north of 42nd Street.
The fight over Grand Central led to the creation of the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated Grand Central as a landmark in 1967, and eventually the preservation of a number of wonderful old buildings. About the time when I moved to New York in 1968, the tide was turning in favor of preservation. I posted here about how I bought a book by Ada Louise Huxtable about classic New York architecture, published in 1964, and went around looking for the buildings. Most of the buildings in the book had been torn down for skyscrapers in the intervening 5 years.