Thursday, July 30, 2009

20th Century Limited

The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967, during which time it would become known as a "National Institution" and the "Most Famous Train in the World". The train traveled between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, Illinois along the railroad's famed "Water Level Route". Making few station stops along the way, the train completed the 960.7 miles (1,546 km) journey in under 16 hours, departing New York City westbound at 6 p.m. and arriving at Chicago's LaSalle St. Station the following morning at 8:45 a.m. Central Time., averaging 61 miles per hour (98 km/h).

The 20th Century was known for its style, which has been described as "spectacularly understated ... suggesting exclusivity and sophistication" as well as for its speed. Passengers walked to and from the train on a plush, crimson carpet which was rolled out in New York and Chicago and was specially designed for the 20th Century Limited: thus, the "red carpet treatment" was born. "Transportation historians", said the writers of The Art of the Streamliner, "consistently rate the 1938 edition of the Century to be the world's ultimate passenger conveyance—at least on the ground".

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