Daily News from New York, New York on February 16, 1997 · 698
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Daily News from New York, New York · 698

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 16, 1997
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J CO As half a million commuters hustle through Grand Central Terminal every day on their way to or from work, a much smaller band of workers is slowly, meticulously restoring the Beaux Arts masterpiece to its origna! splendor. Perched in a maze of scaffolding, they are scrubbing off 50 years of soot and grime, buffing 2,500 stars of gold leaf and wiring the constellation ceiling with fiber optics that will bring its Zodiac back to life. MP - KntorW .-IU ' : t & 1 & ... , V (p W J ft , i ' 4Pi(p - . Q I 6 4 .-.-' 8 iA ,'-' fnJ- r" i m'hiii i liilft -A liS-'W I II inns'' cjkb ry J V HEY WORK AMONG the II stars five artisans perched on a narrow, silvery bridge, brushing up against the plaster heaven in Grand Central Terminal. They've been at it since September, slowly and painstakingly cleaning the ceiling of the 83-year-old landmark terminal as 500,000 people scurry on their commutes and errands 116 feet below. And now, with the ceiling-cleaning project close to completion and the sun shining through windows that had been darkened by grime for decades, Grand Central is starting to look really grand. Oh, there's still a long way to go before the $175-million restoration of the terminal is completed, sometime next year. But the finish line is in sight, and as the workers from John Canning & Co. finish their cleaning, construction is under way in many areas of the terminal. The chandeliers on the north and south balconies have been cleaned and rehung. A new grand staircase is being built at the east end of the concourse, a staircase that was in the original plans for the Beaux Arts terminal, but never built Also in the works: four new exits to the north, a marketplace at 43d St and Lexington Ave., and a variety of restaurants and food shops along the north, east and west balconies. Except for the famed Oyster Bar, which will remain in its original location deep under the 42d St edge of the terminal, most of the interior of the venerable station will be changed. The old clackety- A - - i i I inn --'" Ml . clack arrivals and departures boards will be gone, replaced by easier-to-read liquid crystal displays. Escalators and ramps will be modernized and streamlined. The climate will be new, too, thanks to the installation of new controls designed to keep things warm in winter and cool in summer not an easy task in an old building with so many huge windows and so many connections to subway, train and pedestrian tunnels. Overlooking it all will be the sky the 25,000-square-foot mural, designed by the Hewlett-Basing Studio and painted on the ceiling when the terminal opened in 1913. And quite a sky it is, too there are 2,500 illuminated stars, whose incandescent bulbs are being changed to fiber optics for a more dependable sparkle, and the outlines of several constellations. "We expect to be done with the ceiling cleaning this spring," said John Canning, the 54-year-old president of the subcontractor that's doing the ceiling cleaning. Canning says the cleaning process isn't all that complicated. First, a cloth dampened with a special solution is wiped across a small area of ceiling, taking off a fuzzy layer of dirt, lint and smoke and leaving behind the blue paint and the mural. "After it's cleaned, the difference is pretty dramatic," Canning said. And the half-million people who walk beneath it every day should agree. Don Singleton m CO cr 5 2 to to J rr 2r mo" alto ImI i-at mum nr

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