Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by jbmahaffie
I am researching passenger service in 1916 for a novel in process. My character travels from New York to Philadelphia on an PRR express service run. The railguides I found online for 1910 and 1921 give me a good sense of the timing of his run in 1916, and information on when trains ran, etc. I also see that service included parlor, club and dining cars.

I'd like to know more about the passenger cars he likely would have traveled in, the parlor car, most probably. My ideal is to know the model and layout of the parlor cars, and see pictures of their interiors. I did a lot of online research to try to pin this down but could not quite pin things down.

Any leads or tips or help would be greatly appreciated. Though it's fiction, I can't stand the thought of having the railroad part wrong.

  by ExCon90
I volunteer at the NRHS Library, and we have a reprint of the June 1916 Official Guide. If you need to tie down a specific time and determine what accommodations were provided, e-mail us at [email protected] and one of the volunteers can check it out for you. We're normally in one day a week.
  by edbear
It you're in a 1916 mode, the equipment would all be pretty new as when Pennsylvania Station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania re-equipped the entire fleet of trains using its new New York terminal with brand new steel cars. All of the wooden cars previously used in the services that terminated at Jersey City were banned from Penn. Sta. tunnel service. Your 1916 train would have left Penn. Sta. behind a DD-1 electrick which would have hauled the consist to Manhattan Transfer (in Harrison, NJ I think) where a steam engine would be coupled on. At the Transfer, passengers who came from Uptown or Downtown locations in New York would change from a Hudson & Manhattan rapid transit train to the PRR train. There's a good chance your train would have been powered by a chunky, but very fast, E6 Atlantic type in the non-electric zone beyond Manhattan Transfer.
  by jbmahaffie
Thanks so much ExCon90 and edbear. What great insights and generous help.

I am much better informed already and mean to look for images of the steel cars so I can get clearer on this.

Are there some of the right era at the B&O Museum, Baltimore, or the PRR Museum?
  by ExCon90
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg has a PRR P70 coach (the type edbear mentions in his post above) in just about as-built condition. These cars were the standard coach in New York-Philadelphia-Washington (not yet called the Northeast Corridor) service from the beginning of the all-steel era with the opening of Penn Station (and continued to be the workhorse of passenger service until well after World War II -- the car at the museum does not reflect the many modifications made during that period). I will try to find photos of typical parlor and dining cars of the period around 1916. A point worth keeping in mind is that in 1916 no subway line served Penn Station. The only subway in Manhattan in 1916 started at City Hall, and went up the East Side to Grand Central, then west under 42nd St. to Times Square, then northwest under Broadway. Therefore a passenger leaving from Penn Station (especially a parlor-car passenger) would almost certainly get there by cab. (it might be worth checking whether Seventh Ave. in the vicinity of 31st-33rd Sts. was torn up for subway construction as early as 1916. There's a book called Under the Sidewalks of New York, by Brian Cudahy, which might have that detail.) Most of the action in Manhattan in 1916 was south of 23rd St., so another possibility would be the Hudson & Manhattan Tubes, mentioned by edbear above, with a cross-platform transfer at Manhattan Transfer. Operation within Manhattan was much the same as on PATH (the successor) today -- the uptown trains originating at 33rd St. and Broadway/Sixth Ave. (not a worthwhile substitute for Penn Station, being so close), then down Sixth Ave., with stations at 23rd St., 19th St., 14th St., 9th St., then Christopher St., connecting at Journal Square with downtown trains originating at Hudson Terminal, 30 Church St., and terminating at Newark (Park Place), with an intermediate stop at Manhattan Transfer. The downtown train from Hudson Terminal would have been the preferred option for someone coming from the financial district; hotels would have been farther uptown.
  by ExCon90
I checked the June 1916 Official Guide, and the most practical trains for anyone to take from New York to Philadelphia would have been the "clockers," which left Penn Station every hour on the hour. It was a pretty standard "memory schedule" as follows:

Lv Penn Station ........... 10.00 am (example)
Ar Manhattan Transfer ... 10.16 am
Lv Manhattan Transfer ... 10.18 am (after engine change)
Ar North Phila. ............. 11.46 am
Ar West Phila. ..............11.56 am (32nd & Market Sts., west of the Schuylkill River)
Ar Broad St. Sta. ...........12.00 noon (not 11.59 or 12.01, contrary to usual railroad practice)

An H&M tube train left Hudson Terminal at 10.00 am, connecting at Manhattan Transfer. Based on the schedule, the transfer from tube train to PRR train would have been very quick -- no time to look around. The 9.00 am stopped additionally at Newark (Market St.) at 9.22, but most trains skipped Newark (passengers were referred to a connecting H&M train from Park Place to Manhattan Transfer). Of course Broad St. Station was the centrally located station in Center City and would be the most likely destination for a character in a novel (see various writings of Christopher Morley for atmosphere). Other trains to Washington mostly skipped Broad St. and stopped only at North Philadelphia and West Philadelphia, and those to Pittsburgh and west skipped Broad St. and West Philadelphia, heading west directly after North Philadelphia, so anyone destined to Philadelphia itself would almost certainly taken a clocker. The clockers normally had a long string of P70 coaches, then a diner (called a restaurant car in 1916), then various first-class cars such as parlor, parlor buffet, broiler buffet, and club cars. I've located a few pictures which I can photocopy and send you if you'll furnish a mailing address to [email protected].