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New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central Terminal, former mayor Ed Koch

Grand Central Terminal was packed Friday as New York celebrated the 100th birthday of the transportation icon.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Grand Central Terminal was packed Friday as New York celebrated the 100th birthday of the transportation icon.

NEW YORK — New Yorkers marked the 100th birthday of Grand Central Terminal and ended up celebrating the legacy of another emblem of the city, former mayor Ed Koch, who died Friday and who supported efforts to spare Grand Central from demolition.

The terminal was even more crowded than usual as tourists and commuters leaned in to hear birthday speeches under the twinkling constellations that adorn the main concourse’s soaring ceiling.

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The ceremony started with a moment of silence for Koch, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg then praised both his predecessor and Grand Central.

‘‘We almost lost this extraordinary building, if you remember, back in the ’70s,’’ Bloomberg said. ‘‘And as a matter of fact, at that time the whole city was crumbling, and then we elected Ed Koch.’’

Friday’s party took place exactly 100 years after the keys to Grand Central were first given to the stationmaster in 1913.

Grand Central was in danger of being demolished in the 1970s to make way for a new office tower. It was saved by preservationists including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Caroline Kennedy said her mother was a native New Yorker who cared deeply about the city and mourned the loss of buildings like the old Penn Station, torn down in the 1960s.

‘‘She understood how great public spaces can help build community,’’ Kennedy said.

Kennedy read from a letter Onassis wrote to Mayor Abe Beame in 1975 urging him to help save Grand Central. ‘‘It would be so noble if you were to go down in history as the man who was brave enough to stem the tide,’’ Onassis wrote.

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