Saturday, May 11, 2013

Old is Gold



Old Luxury Trains from "Golden Age of Rail Travel" at Grand Central Terminal

Historical train cars from the "Golden Age of Rail Travel" went on display inside New York City's Grand Central Terminal on Friday (May 10).

The display is part of Grand Central Terminal's ongoing Centennial celebration, honoring the terminal's 100-year history.


The old, luxury rail cars came to the terminal from all over the country. Many are now privately owned.

They represent a time when trains ruled transportation. Before airplane travel was popular and affordable, trains were viewed as fast, luxurious, and fun.

[Karl Zimmermann, Train Historian]:
"You get to see the scope of passenger railroading from the era when Grand Central was built up until today. And you get to see the variety of the private railroads, which is certainly the one thing that we've lost today."

Many of the trains on display were built in the 1940's and 1950's, during the heyday of the mid-20th century luxury train era. The interiors display the art deco fashion of the time. Guests sat in pastel, cushioned chairs placed beside shiny drink holders and ate in elegant dining rooms.

Joan Jennings Scalfani, was a train hostess and greeted passengers as they checked in.

Known as a "Century Girl," between January 1960 and March 1961 Scalfani traveled twice a week between New York and Chicago on the 20th Century Limited.

[Joan Jennings Scalfani, Former Century Girl on the 20th Century Limited]:
"I just feel so blessed that I had that opportunity. Even for a short time. It was just such a wonderful job and something that not many people ever have an opportunity to do."

Scalfani said as a "Century Girl", she was able to meet some of the biggest celebrities and politicians of the time.

[Joan Jennings Scalfani, Former Century Girl on the 20th Century Limited]:
"I never expected that I'd ever meet Frank Sinatra or President and Mrs. Truman, Ernest Hemingway and Miss Mary and people like that. Lena Horne, oh she was gorgeous, Lenny Hayton, let's see, not Count Basie, Duke Ellington, fabulous, Harold Lloyd who was a silent film star. Just too numerous to tell you all, but just wonderful people who had wonderful stories to tell."

The rail cars will be part of the "Parade of Trains" display inside Grand Central Terminal through the weekend. The display is the largest collection of privately owned train cars ever assembled at Grand Central Terminal.

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