When it opened, The New York Times boasted: "Without exception, it is not only the greatest station in the United States, but the greatest station, of any type, in the world."

The Grand Central Terminal took ten years to build at a cost of £1.3 billion by today's figures. When it opened on 2 February 1913 at midnight, over 150,000 people visited the transportation hub.

Friday's commemoration took place exactly 100 years after the station master was given the key to Grand Central, located in midtown Manhattan.

In honour of the milestone, the station's shops were charging 1913 prices: 10 cents for a shoeshine and 19 cents for a slice of cheesecake.

Built by the Vanderbilt family in the Beaux Arts style with grand staircases, chandeliers and a multi-million-dollar clock, the terminal is one of the world's top tourist attractions and still serves New York's commuters.

Some 750,000 people pass through the station every day.

But the building has not always been in the rudest health. In the 1970s, the station was in need of major repairs.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis led a campaign to save it from being torn down and replaced with an office tower.

The battle eventually went to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in 1978 that cities have the right to protect historic buildings even if it prevents the owner from developing or selling the property.

Mrs Onassis' daughter, Caroline Kennedy, was one of the speakers at Friday's celebration in the terminal's main concourse.

Other scheduled speakers include Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, former Mets baseball star Keith Hernandez and former poet laureate Billy Collins.

"It's not easy to last 100 years in a city of constant change," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the beginning of the event.

Fascinating facts about Grand Central Station

    • It is officially Grand Central Terminal, and NOT Grand Central Station. However, most people refer to it as the latter, including the Canadian author Elizabeth Smart, who wrote the prose poetry novel "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept"
    • The clock in the basement, like all clocks in the Terminal, is synced to the atomic clocks of the US Naval Observatory
    • The olive tree-inspired sculptural chandelier hanging above the entrance to the Grand Central Market-was influenced by Greek and Hindu lore. The unique sculpture has 5,000 crystal pendants
    • Visitors to the Whispering Gallery can carry on hushed conversations from opposite sides of the room as if they were standing next to each other. The arched design and glazed tiles carry the sound waves via the room's perfect acoustics
    • The clock in the Main Concourse has been valued at between £6-12 million
    • The station has been a film location many times, and stars in classics including Hitchcock's North by Northwest and The Fisher King
    • For more than 20 years, the attic of the east wing contained an art school and gallery space called the Grand Central School of Art, which was founded in 1922
    • The oldest business in Grand Central is the Oyster Bar, which opened its doors the same year as the terminal itself, 1913. The Oyster Bar sells up to 30 varieties of oysters