Back in the early 1900s our family traveled across the states to visit each other by train. Penn Station in New York City had a fine passenger train called the Broadway Limited. It was an all-deluxe Pullman sleeper train with a dining car in the center and a lounge observation car at the rear.
In the early days when Tony Bongiovanni, Lucia Colosi and other family members arrived in New York, the train was called the Pennsylvania Special. It had been in operation since 1902 when Tony arrived from Italy. It was then renamed the Broadway Limited in 1912 while Lucia and her family were still living in Manhattan.
The Pennsylvania Railroad normally operated the Broadway Limited as an extra-fare, eight-car all sleeper (no coach service) train. The observation cars were paneled in walnut and furnished with large, upholstered chairs, fresh flower bouquets, writing desks with engraved stationery, and a secretary to take dictation. The Pullman sleeping cars built in the 1920s had all private rooms, consisting of compartments, drawing rooms, and single bedrooms.
You could get on board at New York City’s Penn Station in late afternoon, have dinner, then climb into bed and wake up as the train came into Chicago. The full trip took 20 hours. The route also included Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, the nation’s capital.
In the 1920s the train had maid and valet service, and a hair-cut cost just 50 cents. It was considered traveling in style. The train was very conservative and changed little in its looks during the first thirty years. After that, in the 1930s when the streamliner craze began, several redesigns came about. But luxury was still given top priority. Unfortunately, this was all short-lived as rail travel began to wane in the 1950s.
There is an old movie you can watch via the internet entitled “Broadway Limited”. It is a comical love story, but shows several scenes of one of the later editions of the Broadway Limited. The movie has good representations of the train’s interior. It even covers the changeover from steam to the electric GG1 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Broadway Limited, once synonymous with luxury and speed, made its last run in 1967. The name & route survived with Amtrak till 1995, then Amtrak cut its service to save money. The Broadway Limited had been the flagship of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s passenger service. It had offered superb service between New York City and Chicago for more than fifty years.