It WAS easy in the early '60's to demolish Penn Station, build early ugly strip malls, etc. Those of us who dared to raise our voices against "the greatest generation" and their fathers for this urban destruction were stopped cold by a two-word legal reason: private enterprise. The Penn Central Company, and all the others like it, were allowed to do whatever they wanted because they owned the stations, land, etc. Simply put, in those days, corporate ownership trumped the public interest every time (highways were a different matter; ownership of a house didn't get one the rights of a big company).
Thank goodness that over the decades, perhaps because of the shocked outcry over Penn Station, gradually laws were written to at least give the public a fighting chance to preserve prized civic assets.
I don't miss those days. And I don't miss a public without any tools to protect itself from those who had the money and the power.
It's unthinkable today that if Grand Central were still owned by the NYC or any other company, that they would be able or allowed to demolish the building, regardless of public wishes. To me, that's progress. I shall sit back now and watch for the comments of others who will call that, and everything else they fear and dislike, "socialism."