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Cars of the 1938 Century

By | April 16, 2021

New York Central’s 1938 20th Century Limited was composed of an extraordinary mix of luxury streamlined cars

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Streamlined steam locomotive leading a streamline passenger train on a gentle curve.
Streamlined steam locomotive and passenger train on a gentle curve.
New York Central's 1938 20th Century Limited as seen in this photo led by a 4-6-4 "Drefuss" styled Hudson-type locomotive.

New York Central photograph
Streamlined steam locomotive and passenger train on a gentle curve.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
No. 5020: Mail-baggage car with 60-foot Railway Post Office section; one car per typical consist; 4 built; Nos. 5020–5023.

New York Central photograph
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
CENTURY INN: Club lounge with crew dormitory, barbershop, buffet, lounge; one per typical consist; 4 built; Century-series names.

New York Central photograph
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.

CITY OF TOLEDO: 17-roomette sleeper (plus one section for porter); two per typical consist; 10 built; City of-series names.

New York Central photograph

Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
CASCADE VALLEY: 10-roomette/5-double-bedroom sleeper; two per typical consist; 12 built; Cascade-series names

New York Central photograph
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
IMPERIAL COURT: 4-compartment/4-double-bedroom/2-drawing room sleeper; three per typical consist; 14 built; Imperial-series.

New York Central photograph
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.

No. 680: Dining car with kitchen and 38 seats; two per typical consist, coupled with dining areas adjacent; 6 built; Nos. 680–685.

New York Central photograph

Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY: 13-double-bedroom sleeper; one per typical consist; 8 built; County-series names.

New York Central photograph
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.
 
Streamlined passenger car broadside image.

From its launch in 1902, New York Central’s 20th Century Limited was arguably the most prestigious train in America. With its all-first-class passenger accommodations, the Century was the way to travel between New York and Chicago. By 1938 the train’s reputation was well established when it was completely re-equipped with new streamlined Alco locomotives and Pullman-Standard cars. Styled by Henry Dreyfuss, the ’38 Century was a landmark of American industrial design. It was also the great train’s high-water mark.

 

In 1942, a typical Century consist looked like this:

1st car: Railway Post Office/baggage

2nd car: Crew dormitory/passenger lounge

3rd car: 17-roomette sleeper

4th car: 17-roomette sleeper

5th car: 10-roomette/5-double-bedrooom sleeper

6th car: 4-double-bedroom/4-compartment/2-drawing-room sleeper

7th car: Diner

8th car: Diner

9th car: 4-double-bedroom/4-compartment/2-drawing-room sleeper

10th car: 10-roomette/5-double-bedrooom sleeper

11th car: 13-double-bedroom sleeper

12th car: 4-double-bedroom/4-compartment/2-drawing-room sleeper

13th car: Observation/buffet/lounge/deluxe-suite sleeper

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