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The Future of New York's Grand Central Station Includes 360 Degree Views of the Skyline

An elevated new vision for New York's Grand Central Station complet with 360 degree views of the city.

New York's Grand Central Station is one of the city's most iconic buildings, completed in 1913 and given landmark status in 1968. According to Travel + Leisure magazine it's also "the world's number six most visited tourist attraction." It will turn 100-years-old in 2013, and to mark the occasion, the Municipal Art Society challenged three architectsFoster + Partners, WXY Architecture + Urban Design, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)--to reimagine the public spaces in and around Grand Central. After all, most successful icons are in a constant state of reinvention (Madonna, anyone?) so it makes sense for the Terminal to follow suit.

The call for submissions for The Next 100 also came in response to new zoning laws that could change the landscape of midtown Manhattan dramatically. Already, taller, and more ambitious buildings are being planned and constructed for the area, promising to alter the city's skyline significantly. But the zoning is an opportunity for Grand Central, with more freedom to transform the building and its surrounding areas to make the space more livable.

We were most excited by SOM's vision for the station's next 100 years. They propose three solutions to improve the space. The first idea alleviates pedestrian congestion on the street level by restructuring Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) to create pedestrian corridors through multiple city blocks and connecting Grand Central to nearby urban attractors.


The second, as outlined in their press release, is "a condensing of the public realm through the creation of additional levels of public space that exist both above and below the existing spaces. These new strata would be funded privately but under public ownershipPrivately Funded Public Space (PFPS)."



Anyone afraid of heights beware: The third proposalour favorite—creates an active, "24-hour precinct around Grand Central Terminal in the form of an iconic circular pedestrian observation deck, suspended above Grand Central, and gives visitors a 360-degree panorama of the city." And if that weren't enough, the deck moves up and down vertically, "bringing people from the cornice of Grand Central to the pinnacle of New York City’s skyline."



Most people coming to Grand Central do so in a rush to catch a train, often just on their way in—or out—of the beautiful building. This three-fold proposal gives visitors a reason to stay a while, slow down, and enjoy the scenery. From what we've already seen with projects like The High Line, whose architecture offers little more than a beautiful place to stroll with spectacular views of the city below, the most successful structures of the future will serve as a beacon for community and engagement and encourage us to take a break from the hustle and bustle.



To punctuate their concept, the architects have even offered a view of what the reinvented landmark would look like if flying overhead. Nothing says icon like a landmark the captain can point out from the cockpit.

Photos courtesy of SOM and SOM/Crystal

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health