Grand Central Terminal continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary, with a FREE Parade of Trains display of historic railroad equipment. All aboard for ahis special, one-time weekend event May 11/12 that includes an observation car from the iconic 20th Century limited, arguably the most famous train in the world, plus family-friendly activities, and the Terminal’s first model train and railroad collectibles. This is the largest gathering of historic trains ever assembled in Grand Central Terminal, on display 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, and “Railroadiana”, the largest collection of train memorabilia, collectibles and antiques.
Vanderbilt Hall is being transformed into “Kid Junction,” full of free activities for children and families, including a modular train display from the “Chuggington” animated train series (seen on the “Disney Junior” channel), demonstrations with a Master Builder from the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, and more. GCT’s retail shops also are offering specials and deals.
The “Parade of Trains” arrangement of historical railroad equipment comprises the largest and most diverse collection of privately owned train cars ever assembled in Grand Central Terminal. The event also includes Grand Central’s first model train show and “Railroadiana” antiques and collectibles event, with a variety of retailers and regional railroading museums lining part of Vanderbilt Hall, offering sales and hosting exhibits of unique railroad and train-related items.
Here’s a brief history of some of the historic train cars featured in “Parade of Trains”:
- The 20th Century Limited “Hickory Creek” – Built in 1948 by Pullman Standard, this sleeper-observation lounge car was part of the New York Central Railroad’s 20th Century Limited, which is widely considered the most famous train in the world. The 20th Century departed daily from Grand Central Terminal and was synonymous with first-class service, speed and comfort. The 20th Century was christened at Grand Central in 1948 by Dwight Eisenhower and actress Bea Lillie, with a champagne bottle filled with water from the Hudson River, Lake Erie, and Lake Michigan, symbolizing the railroad’s “Water Level Route.”
- Montana – The Montana was built in the Milwaukee Road shops as a tap lounge for the streamlined 1947 Olympian Hiawatha, which ran between Chicago and Tacoma/Seattle. The car was retired from regular in service in 1955 and leased to the Wisconsin Central for steam excursions. It’s now in private ownership.
- Vista Valley – The sleeper-observation lounge car Vista Valley was commissioned in 1947 by the Santa Fe Railway to upgrade its flagship Super Chief train. It served mainly the West Coast and hosted many traveling movie stars and VIPs in its day. Retired in 1971, Vista Valley’s interior remains intact and appears today as it was created for the Santa Fe. Also in private ownership.
- FL-9 Locomotive – Unique to the New York, New Haven and Hartford lines (and eventually operated by Metro-North), these dual-power locomotives were designed specifically for operation into Grand Central. Essentially diesel-electrics, they could pick up power from the electrified third rail when operating through the tunnel into the Terminal, eliminating exhaust fumes. The Electro-Motive Division of General Motors built these locomotives from 1956 to 1960.
- Phoebe Snow Cars –These cars were built in 1949 as tavern-lounge observation cars for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western’s Phoebe Snow train. The train was named for a promotional character who always wore white clothes to promote its clean-burning coal fuel. Phoebe Snow cars ran between Hoboken and Buffalo and later, under the auspices of the Erie Lackawanna railroad, to Chicago. These cars now serve as MTA Metro-North Railroad’s inspection cars.
- MTA Metro-North’s M8 – This contemporary car is the newest equipment used by Metro-North Railroad in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation. The M8s debuted in early 2011 and are the most technologically advanced commuter cars in the country, with roomier seats, larger windows, better lighting, and more advanced communication options than previous cars. The vibrant red color echoes the historic colors of the old New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, one of the predecessors of Metro-North.
Find additional details on the “Grand Centennial Parade of Trains” on the GCT website, Facebook (facebook.com/GrandCentralTerminal) and Twitter (@GrandCentralNYC and #GCT100). All aboard!
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