I was just at a meeting in midtown (which is why my posting has been light today – apologies!) and on my way back downtown I went through Grand Central Terminal, my favorite public place in the city.
All my native New Yorker cynicism abandons me whenever I enter. It’s always been that way, long before it was restored (starting in 1994). It’s not just the soaring ceiling and all that marble, it’s the feeling of the space. I can’t think of another place that functions as such a dense crossroads without feeling horribly claustrophobic.
There’s an excellent book by Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place, that describes the success of Grand Central in very specific detail. It does a great job of explaining the mechanics of what I’ve always considered to be a very emotional and somewhat sentimental reaction to a public space.
All the hubbub about The Gates as such an amazing shared experience seems unwarranted (yes, look at me going out on a limb, in spite of what Peter Schjeldahl has to say in this week’s New Yorker) when the spectacle of Grand Central is around to be experienced and enjoyed every single day.