MOVIE PALACES, TRAINS, CLASSIC CARS, SPORTS, DEPARTMENT STORES
This page includes a focus on
A Selection of the most famous 1950s Streamlined Passenger Trains
Trains in the eastern U.S.: The 20th Century Limited, the Broadway Limited, the Capitol Limited, the National Limited. and the Crescent.
Trains in the midwest: The Panama Limited. Trains in the northwest: The Empire Builder.
Trains in the west: The Super Chief, City of Los Angeles, California Zephyr, and Coast Daylight.
Premier Rail Service between New York City, Washington, and Chicago
In the 1950s, more than a dozen trains each day departed from New York City heading for Chicago. Two railroads competed for top honors in the lucrative market. The New York Central’s 20th Century Limited, catered to business travelers with its modernistic designs and colors, while its rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited, served the conservative traveler with its cheerful, light, and airy style. The Baltimore and Ohio's longer route from New York put it at a disadvantage, but it possessed the most direct route from Washington and it pressed that competitive edge. The Erie, and the Lackawana Railroads also competed in this market.
New York Central Railroad
20th Century Limited
New York / Chicago
Features: Pullman Sleeping Cars, Dining Car, Club Lounge Car, and Observation Lounge
Livery: light gray with dark gray bands highlighted with white 16 hoursovernight (via Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland) Train #25 Westbound (June, 1952): 5:00pm Departs New York City’s Grand Central Terminal
8:30am Arrives Chicago’s La Salle Street Station
Train #26 Eastbound (June, 1952):
3:00pm Departs Chicago’s La Salle Street Station
8:30am Arrives New York City’s Grand Central Terminal
The legendary 20th Century Limited, that originated ‘Red Carpet Treatment,’ was the New York Central’s premier entry in the New York to Chicago market for 65 years from 1902 to 1967. The Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited outlasted its more famous rival by nearly thirty years until 1995. Based on traffic figures the 20th Century Limited edged out the Broadway Limited.
(intermediate stops include Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati)
Train #1 Westbound (June, 1952): 1:10pm Departs New York 42nd Street Station
6:30pm Departs Washington’s Union Station
1:00pm Arrives Saint Louis Union Station
Train #2 Eastbound (June, 1952): 10:05am Departs Saint Louis Union Station
7:30am Arrives Washington’s Union Station
12:25pm Arrives New York 42nd Street Station
Chicago Rail Service throughout the Midwest and Northeast
Chicago had six passenger train stations in 1950. Several were built before the turn of the century, including the Dearborn Street Station in the South Loop, the Grand Central Station at Wells and Harrison Streets, and the Central Station built by the Illinois Central RR at 12th Street. The LaSalle Street Station, built in 1902 at LaSalle and Van Buren Streets, featured a 12-story office building. The Chicago & North Western Station built in 1911 featured a three-story-tall waiting room decorated with bronze-trimmed marble. Reconstructed, it still serves commuter trains today. But most notable was the massive Chicago Union Station, designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who died before its completion. Opened in 1925, it is one of a dozen monumental Beaux-Arts stations of the ‘American Renaissance’ era. The station's ornate main waiting room, the ‘Great Hall,’ had a 110’ high atrium capped by a large barrel-vaulted skylight. It remains as one of the great interior public spaces in the United States to this day.
Illinois Central Railroad
Chicago / New Orleans
Features: 7 Pullman Sleeping Cars (no coaches), Dining Car, Observation Lounge Car
Train #6 Northbound (June, 1952): 4:15pm Departs New Orleans Union Station
8:45am Arrives Chicago’s Illinois Central Station
The Illinois Central's crack overnight streamliner was the first class way to travel between Chicago and New Orleans. The Diesel-powered Panama Limited made the run from Chicago to New Orleans in 18 hours and the train sported the striking Illinois Central chocolate-and-orange livery.
Great Northern Railroad
Chicago / Seattle
Features: Pullman Sleeping Cars, Dome Cars, Lounge Car, Observation Car, Dining Car
Livery: dark green and orange with gold trim
45 hours (30 stops) – 2 overnights (via Minneapolis, Spokane) Train #1 Westbound (June, 1952): 1:00pm Departs Chicago Union Station
8:00am Arrives Seattle’s King Street Station
7:45am (Portland Section) Arrives Portland
Train #2 Eastbound (June, 1952): 3:00pm Departs Seattle’s King Street Station
2:15pm (Portland Section) Departs Portland
2:00pm Arrives Chicago Union Station
Great Northern’s Empire Builder and Northern Pacific’s North Coast Limited, were two of the world’s finest trains. Everything was streamlined.
Premier Rail Service to the West Coast
Possibly the 1950s most recognized passenger train was the Super Chief. The yellow emblem on the front of the red and silver train was the pride of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad fleet. The Union Pacific competed on the Chicago-Los Angeles run with its City of Los Angeles and Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited operated between New Orleans and Los Angeles.
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad
Chicago / Los Angeles
Features: All Pullman Sleeping Cars
Livery: red, yellow, black, and stainless steel
40 hours – 2 overnights (via Kansas City and Albuquerque)
Train #17 Westbound (June, 1952): 7:00pm Departs Chicago’s Dearborn Station
8:45am (2 days later) Arrives Los Angeles Union Station
Train #18 Eastbound (June, 1952):
8:00pm Departs Los Angeles Union Station
1:45pm (2 days later) Arrives Chicago’s Dearborn Station
The flagship Santa Fe Super Chief was completely re-equipped in 1951. The world famous1 Chicago-Los Angeles train maintained its stellar standard of excellence from its inception in 1936 until its handover to Amtrak in 1971.
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad
Chicago / San Francisco
Features: Pullman Sleeping Cars, 5 Dome Cars, Lounge Car, Dining Car, Observation Car
50 hours – 2 overnights (via Denver, Salt Lake City)
Train #17 Westbound (June, 1952):
3:30pm Departs Chicago Union Station -
4:00pm Arrives Oakland (bus to San Francisco)
Train #18 Eastbound (June, 1952):
9:00am Departs Oakland via bus from San Francisco
1:30pm Arrives Chicago Union Station
In a joint venture, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, and the Western Pacific Railroad operated the famed ‘all stainless steel’ California Zephyr. The schedule was tweaked to show the Rocky Mountain and the Feather River Canyon scenery to best advantage in the daylight. From its introduction in 1949, it was a sensation.
Union Pacific Railroad
City of Los Angeles
Chicago / Los Angeles
Features: Sleeping Cars, Dome Cars, Observation Car
Livery: Armour yellow with Harbor mist gray accents, and red lettering and striping
41 hours – 2 overnights (via Omaha and Salt Lake City)
Train #103 Westbound (June, 1952): 6:15pm Departs Chicago’s North Western Station
8:00am (2 days later) Arrives Los Angeles Union Station
Train # 104 Eastbound (June, 1952): 4:00pm Departs Los Angeles Union Station 9:45am (2 days later) Arrives Chicago’s North Western Station
The pride of Union Pacific’s extensive streamliner fleet, the City of Los Angeles became a Domeliner in 1955 with the arrival of the new ‘Astra-Domes.’ The new equipment featured dome dining cars, unique to Union Pacific.
Southern Pacific Railroad
Los Angeles - San Francisco
Livery: Red, Orange, and Black
Northbound (June, 1952):
7:15am Departs Los Angeles
5:00pm Arrives San Francisco
Southbound (June, 1952):
7:15am Departs San Francisco
5:00pm Arrives Los Angeles
Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Daylight "The Most Beautiful Train in the World" was pulled by a steam locomotive until it was dieselized in 1955. With a stunning red, orange, and black color scheme, it taversed spectacular scenery between Los Angeles and San Francisco.