After years of stuttered construction, the $11 billion Long Island Rail Road terminal in Grand Central has opened—and commuters have already noticed a design oversight.
Homages to New York City landmarks and luminaries line the concourse walls, including an engraved quote from “Georgia O’Keefe”:
“One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.”
A stirring sentiment. However, the painter’s surname is correctly spelled “O’Keeffe”.
The spelling gaffe was first reported by Bloomberg. Tim Minton, the communications director fo the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversaw the new terminal’s construction, told the outlet: “We clearly f-ed this one up and it’s being fixed.”
This is far from the first time history— or at least fact-checkers—have grappled with the spelling of the totemic American modernist. There is a “Georgia O’Keefe Way” in Marlton, New Jersey and until recently, a “Georgia O’Keefe Road” in Los Cruces, New Mexico (the road now bears the correct spelling in Google Maps). According to the artist’s biography Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, the painter expressed annoyance at the frequent misspellings of her surname in the press.
O’Keeffe, famed for her lush visions of the American Southwest, got her break in New York City with a well-received showing of charcoal drawings at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery in 1916, and a solo exhibition at the enterprise a year later. Fame followed fast: she received her first retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927, around the same time she began a series of 15 cityscapes that explored Manhattan’s dramatic light and shadow play.
The new Grand Central Madison terminal celebrated its inaugural ride on January 25 and will ferry some 160,000 commuters from Long Island directly to Manhattan’s Midtown, per data from the MTA. Hopefully, those generations of commuters will pass by an updated plaque.