“There we were,” said Laurie Beckelman, who had joined the Municipal Art Society Staff two years earlier, “just the two of us in this small office answering the phones when a soft spoken voice at the end of the line said she’d like to speak with Kent Barwick. She said she had read the article in the Times and wanted her to get involved. I asked her for her name and she replied, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.” I thought it was a joke. I told Kent there was a woman on the phone who claimed to be Jackie Onassis and should I take a message, to which he replied, “no, I”l take the call.’ And it really was Jackie. Kent told her that if she wanted to get involved she should join our citizens’ committee. Not only did she join the committee but she called and wrote Mayor Beame to convince him to file the city’s appeal. She went to the press conferences, breakfasts, what event, she was there, and when she spoke it made a difference.” Perhaps, as Beckleman suggested, it was Jackie’s letter and phone calls to the mayor that finally convinced him to file the city’s appeal.
A press conference led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Philip Johnson was held on the Oyster Bar ramp announcing the formation of the Committee to Save Grand Central Station. A national branch of the committee chaired by National Trust President James Biddle and American Institute of Architects President William Marshall, Jr. FAIA, was also announced. At the conference, architect Hugh Hardy was the leader who focused attention on the history of the Terminal and its importance architecturally, historically, and culturally. “We intend to demonstrate that Grand Central can again function as the symbol, marketplace, and economic engine with which a preeminently important part of midtown Manhattan can be rejuvenated. Highlighting Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s active participation, made the headlines when he passionately stated, “Jackie will save us.” And in fact she did. The former First Lady was not participating merely as a celebrity figure. She was steeped in knowledge of the building, its architecture, and its history as well as being someone with a strong personal point of view about historic preservation.
“I think this is so terribly important,” Mrs Onassis said, her voice barely rising over a whisper as dishes and silver rattled in the rear of the Terminal’s Oyster Bar where the staff was preparing for the luncheon crowd. “We’ve all heard that it’s too late.” Mrs. Onassis said, facing the television cameras. The public has been told “that it’s too late,” she said,” facing the television cameras. The public has been told “that it has to happen but we know that it’s not so. Even in the eleventh hour, it’s not late.” Mrs. Onassis explained that she chose to help save Grand Central Terminal because “old buildings are important and if we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for our future.”