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Flash Mob Celebrates Grand Central Station’s 100th Birthday

Flash Mob Celebrates Grand Central Station’s 100th Birthday
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To commemorate the centenary of Grand Central Terminal, the MTA invited Improv Everywhere to perform.

Ryan Gerhardt
  • 7 february 2013

For 100 years, Grand Central Terminal has served as a major commuter hub and all around tourist attraction. Bringing in an estimated 21,000,000 visitors annually, and confounding countless others who wonder what the distinction is between being a ‘Terminal’ and a ‘Station,’ the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) decided there should be a special event to mark the centennial.

With the help of Improv Everywhere, the MTA Arts for Transit was able to stage such a celebration last Friday.

Equipped with cameras and LED lights, a flash mob of 135 people appeared out of nowhere to put on a performance in the grand windows of the Terminal along Vanderbilt Avenue. Choreographed and directed by the improvisation troupe, who are no strangers to planning missions in Grand Central, the impromptu show provided passersby with a shower of white, red, green, and blinking lights. There was even an enthusiastic, if somewhat spastic, dance solo by of the troupe’s ‘agents.’

After being invited to put on a performance by MTA Arts for Transit, which is the organization that promotes arts in NYC public transit, Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, noticed the catwalks that run between the grand windows in Grand Central. Normally closed off for employee use only, Todd had the idea of projecting their performance from this elevated, front-and-center stage. As can be seen in the video below, it is an arresting sight.

The performers, who only had one rehearsal prior to the show, were directed by a prerecorded narrator that played over speakers placed in the catwalk. The carefully choreographed sequence looked more like a digital projection than an ‘analog’ light display, which goes to show that creativity can still trump the latest and greatest technology.

Check out the gallery below for images of this 100th birthday surprise:

Grand Central Terminal

Improv Everywhere

MTA Arts for Transit

Images via Improv Everywhere

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