As one of New York City's most recognizable landmarks it has served as a backdrop for countless movies and TV shows including "North by Northwest," ''The Cotton Club" and "Gossip Girl."
A previous plan to replace the building with an office tower sparked a campaign by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other preservationists to have it declared a landmark. The fight for Grand Central went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1978 that cities have the right to protect historic buildings even if it limits the owner's ability to develop or sell the property.
Onassis' daughter, Caroline Kennedy, will speak at Friday's centennial celebration in the terminal's main concourse. Other speakers scheduled include Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon, former Mets star Keith Hernandez and former poet laureate Billy Collins.
The celebration starts with the West Point Brass and Percussion Band performing the world premiere of "Grand Central Centennial Fanfare."
Grand Central was once a long-distance train terminal but now serves commuters going to and from New York's northern suburbs via Metro-North Railroad. A New York City subway station also connects to the building and the complex has dozens of shops and restaurants, including the venerable Oyster Bar.
Several of Grand Central's businesses plan to offer special 1913 deals for Friday's birthday celebration, including a 75 cent cocktail at Michael Jordan's The Steak House N.Y.C. and a 19 cent slice of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar.
Friday's party takes place exactly 100 years after the keys to Grand Central were first given to the stationmaster on Feb. 1, 1913.
The celebration will continue with events throughout 2013, including a performance piece by artist Nick Cave on March 25-31 and a parade of historic trains May 10-12.