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…use of “major” was coined by William Rainey Harper…

On the wrong track
Regarding Jessica Abel’s “Chicagophile” cartoon in the June /04 issue, what one infers from the Grand Central Station tour guide is that the Twentieth Century Limited arrived on tracks 39 or 40. This would be wrong. In its heyday, the Twentieth Century Limited used tracks 26 and 27. These two tracks were the most famous portals in the terminal. Sometime in the 1940s the TCL was switched to track 34. I’ve not seen any documentation of it using any other track at Grand Central Terminal, though, undoubtedly, there must have been occasional exceptions. See: Lucius Beebe’s The Twentieth Century Limited (Berkeley, California: Howell-North Publishing, 1962) and Richard J. Cook Sr.’s The Twentieth Century Limited (Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing, 1993).

Actually, an earlier generation of U of C students needn’t have traveled to New York to witness the glories of the TCL. Daily, at about 4:30 p.m., both the Twentieth Century Limited and the Broadway Limited pulled into the Englewood station, a few blocks west of campus at 63rd Street, loaded passengers (possibly those few students affluent enough to afford the fare), simultaneously started with the deafening roar that only steam can produce, and then raced at top speed for the next ten miles on parallel tracks before parting ways for New York. This contest between America’s two premier passenger trains has long been considered the ultimate spectacle of American railroading, a metaphor for rivalry between the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads. In the late ’30s the viewer would have seen the Century pulled by one of the Henry Dreyfuss–designed streamlined Hudsons, considered by many to be the epitome of Art Deco design. These engines would not have appeared in Grand Central since steam locomotives were banned within New York City limits.
I would say that riding the Twentieth Century Limited was one of the more memorable experiences of my life.

Dane Kosaka, MBA’74
New York City

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