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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY TO THE CARIBBEAN BY CLIPPER, c. 1950s

Planes, Trains: 1935

Planes, Trains: 1935

June 12, 1935. "Newark passenger station, Pennsylvania Railroad. Waiting room, sunlight and passengers. McKim, Mead & White, client." Waiting for someone to explain the plane. Large format negative by Gottscho-Schleisner. View full size.

 

Medallions

Here is a more modern view of the interior. Notice the other medallions.

Let there be light!

The original lighting fixtures after being cleaned and refurbished.

Medallion of "Electric Locomotive"

Here's a shot of one of the medallions at the other end of the building.

Transportation medallions

If I recall correctly, there are twelve medallions total. Penn Station Newark is still a place at which you can start a cross-country train journey, and while Amtrak is not as elegant as Pullman cars nor as attractive as GG-1s, it's still comfortable and good food served in the dining cars.

Train Time!

I'm totally amazed that no one has noticed that it's time for the Chattanooga Choo Choo to head South ('bout a quarter to four).

"Airway Limited"

Transcontinental Air Transport (New York to Los Angeles (Glendale) in less than 51 hours, train-plane-train-plane) started in summer 1929; one-way fare was $338 including a lower berth each night on the train. By 1935 it was all over-- T&WA DC-2s were scheduled Newark to Glendale? Burbank? in less than 18 hours.

About that plane

Since Newark constructed an airport in 1928, there is a better than average chance that the reference is there. You know, take the train to the station and a cab or bus to the plane. Still done today. Not many trains to planes, even now.

re McKim Mead & White

Well, to quote Katnip, "that sounds logical".

Trains vs. Planes

I don't know why, but I still have to see the airport building or photograph thereof which rings a bell with me anywhere near as much as well-designed well-built train station.

On an airport, the planes are the show, if at all.

Maybe it has to do with much greater accessibility and, say, democratic "feel" of a train station? Or with their general location (middle of town vs. outskirts to boonies)?

McKim, Mead & White

This question may merely be in consequence of my occasional transient befuddlement, but whose client is McKim, Mead & White?

[The photographic firm of Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner. -tterrace]

Opening the windows

Anyone know how this was done? I see the hinge apparatus but wondering how opening the high windows was achieved?
Some funky cable cable system? Long poles?

[There's a fitting with what looks like a crank hole near the base of each window. - Dave]

Some Changes

In front of the windows, where the three lone travelers sit, is now a high-tech snack bar. Incongruous with the lovely deco surroundings. It's not unusual to find sparrows, pigeons, or other flighted friends walking or fluttering about. To their credit, Newark's Finest do their best to keep the waiting room and platforms clear of homeless and panhandlers. Taxis still line up outside, but passengers departing need to walk more than a block from their designated "drop-off" area since 9/11. Progress...

Still crazy busy, after all these years

Yes, it does look substantially the same today, thanks to an extensive restoration in the 1980's. Newark Penn features four levels of interconnections: Cabs and buses at street level; Tracks 1-5 above, including NJ Transit, Amtrak Regional and Acela service; PATH trains ("The Tubes") at roof level; and a basement-level terminal for multiple light rail lines. As late as the 80's, this last level ran 1940's PCC trolleys... ten cents intra-city in those days. A few abandoned cars were found in a walled-off siding under the street when that siding was returned to service for new light rail service around 2002.

Times Change

While the structure of the room remains the same, the ambience is somewhat diminished. The benches are usually populated with vagrants. I frequently notice that, as a result, those who are seated are spread out, as no one chooses to sit within five feet or so of the "regulars".

It's a depressing room these days; at least on the weekends, when I pass through. If the situation is better on weekdays, I'd be happy to hear of it.

Memories of home

As a former Newark resident I remember this waiting room quite well. I would pass through there on my way to catch the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) Trains to NYC. Outside the windows on the left there was usually a queue of taxis lined up. Behind the doors below the airplane was an exit that led to loading platforms for buses that went to places like Seaside and Asbury Park.

I left Newark in 1976 but I suspect that the waiting room looks the same today as it did back in 1935.

Excitement not shown

As a kid visiting Newark Station long ago to pick up Grandmother from Cincinnati, it was unbelievably exciting. Huge rumbles from overhead trains coming in, and when you were old enough you got to visit various platforms to be near trains. Those were real trains, with GG-1 locomotives and pullman cars and full service dining cars. Unintelligible public address announcements. It started to go downhill around 1960.

What's your sign?

In addition to the medallions symbolizing the history of transportation on the walls, the hanging lanterns are surrounded with ornamental bands depicting astrological signs; not sure how that ties into the history of transportation.

Train by night, plane by day

In 1935, the Pennsylvania Railroad, along with the Santa Fe Railroad out west, had a partnership with TWA. In the early days of commercial air travel, night flying was not yet viewed to be safe, so for a time the railroads would partner with airlines, to offer fastest transcontinental services by taking the trains overnight, and flying during the day. You would leave New York in the evening, and take an overnight train to Columbus, Ohio where you would board a plane to Wichita, Kansas. At Wichita, you would board the Santa Fe for an overnight trip to Clovis, New Mexico, where you would get on another plane to either L.A. or San Francisco.

As Newark Penn Station opened in 1935, I expect that's why there's a plane on the wall.

History of transportation

"The interior of the main waiting room has medallions illustrating the history of transportation, from wagons to steamships to cars and airplanes, the eventual doom of the railroad age."

 
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