New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

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New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby baumgrenze » Sat Sep 03, 2016 6:30 pm

Is there a way to learn what passenger service options were available between New York City and Chicago in early September 1929?

My father, a 17-year-old immigrant, arrived in New York City with his 18-year-old brother on the SS München on 2 September 1929 (Labor Day.) Dad was indentured to work on a diary farm near Elgin, IL to pay for his transportation to America. The transportation included tickets for both the trans-Atlantic steamship and railroad transportion to Chicago.

I recall Dad telling us that as they walked through New York from the docks to the railroad station they passed a group of children playing in the street and Dad's brother said, "Gustav, ebe' die Kinder heir spreche' Englisch." (Even the kids here speak English.) It was one of many rude awakenings.

If Dad remembered which train they were on, he never told us. I'm trying to reconstruct a 'probable story.' Therefore I ask:

1) How many railroad lines offered passenger service between New York and Chicago?
2) What was the approximate cost of a ticket for this trip?
3) Did it cost more to ride 'coach' on the 20th Century Limited or other 'crack' train than on a 'milk run' train on another line?
4) Am I correct in concluding that they used either Grand Central Station or Penn Station to leave New York?
5) My research suggests that at best it was a 20 hour long trip.
6) Did I forget to ask an obvious question?

thanks,

baumgrenze
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby John_Perkowski » Sat Sep 03, 2016 8:41 pm

Is there a way to learn what passenger service options were available between New York City and Chicago in early September 1929?

1) How many railroad lines offered passenger service between New York and Chicago?
While the New York Central and the Pennsylvania were the two biggest, you could get there from here on other roads.
2) What was the approximate cost of a ticket for this trip? Rail fare in 1938 was 22.69 coach, 27.65 first class. A Pullman lower berth was 8.65.

3) Did it cost more to ride 'coach' on the 20th Century Limited or other 'crack' train than on a 'milk run' train on another line?
First, the TWENTIETH CENTURY LIMITED was all Pullman AND Extra Fare. You paid for speed. I'd have to look to see what through coach service each line had.
4) Am I correct in concluding that they used either Grand Central Station or Penn Station to leave New York?GCT was the NYCs station, Penn was PRR.

5) My research suggests that at best it was a 20 hour long trip.
Twenty hours was the Century and the Broadway Limited. Most trains were slower.
6) Did I forget to ask an obvious question?

thanks,

baumgrenze
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby baumgrenze » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:56 pm

Thank you, John, for your helpful reply.

My intercity rail experience was later, ~1958-1960, between Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The C&NW 400 ran past my house (200' from the tracks) in northern Highland Park, but I still had to travel into Chicago (or at least Evanston) to go back north so I chose different roads, Northwestern, Burlington, Milwaukee Road, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Great Western, just for the experience. I don't recall a trip on the Soo Line. I rode 400's, Zephyrs, Hiawathas, the Empire Builder and also overnight 'milk run' trains that stopped in every town it seemed. I no longer recall if there was a difference in ticket prices. In the early 60's I recall a trip from St. Louis to Chicago that included a short ride on the Wabash Cannonball. I also recall several trips from Chicago to Eureka, IL on the Pekin Express or 'Doodlebug.' As a young child I remember a multi-line trip from Chicago to the Ft. Wayne, IN area that involved the Monon (a name that stuck in my mind all these years.)

How would you go about checking the 1929 ear lines that offered coach service between New York and Chicago that was more-or-less direct so that it did not involve added cost because a gambit to Detroit or Cincinnati (the way airlines force us to travel today, it seems?) There must be 'tricks of the trade' in constructing search terms that return useful answers instead of 'false positives' for the most part.

thanks

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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby electricron » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:49 am

My Wiki search found this answer:
1) New York Central Railroad
Grand Central Terminal to LaSalle Street Station in Chicago via Buffalo
2) Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Station to LaSalle Street Station in Chicago via Pittsburgh
3) Erie Railroad
Pavonia Terminal in Jersey City to Dearborn Station in Chicago via Binghamton
4) Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City to Grand Central Station in Chicago via Washington D.C.

Do you consider Jersey City New York City in the year 1929?
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby leviramsey » Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:49 am

Also, is not the CNJ terminal in Jersey the closest to Ellis Island?
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:11 am

Ron, either Wiki is mistaken (so what's new) or you made a reporting error, but Pennsy used Union Station and not La Salle (Central and Penn using same terminal? Uh, not likely).

Central also made use.of the IC station (12th St) for Michigan Central and C,C,C, & St. L "Big Four" services.

Related, and I'd really have to do some digging though TRAINS to find it, but ACK once rode and reported on some diverse routing including the Algoma Central from NY to Chicago, for which there was a through rate.
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby CHTT1 » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:03 am

The main rail routes from New York City to Chicago were the New York Central (Grand Central Terminal to LaSalle Street, via Buffalo and Cleveland) and the Pennsylvania (Penn Station to Union Station via Pittsburgh), also you could also ride the Erie (Jersey City to Dearborn Street) via Buffalo and Youngstown) and the Baltimore and Ohio (Jersey City to Grand Central Station via Washington and Pittsburgh). I would imagine your ancestor would have taken the NYC or PRR.
Trains like the 20th Century and Broadway limiteds were all-Pullman and charged an extra fare. Coach tickets on all other trains would have been the same, since ticket prices were regulated by the ICC and were the same every day.
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby CarterB » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:16 am

Also possible DL&W connecting Buffalo with NKP. lower fares than NYC or PRR
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:27 am

Mr. Morris, the "differential" rates you note only came into effect during the '50's when the Central and Penn, after deciding they wanted out, were granted a massive fare increase pushing NY-CHI in a Roomette to $81 in 1958. The B&O, ERIE, and DL&W-NKP, not quite ready to throw in the towel, did not go along with that increase.
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby baumgrenze » Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:25 pm

Thank you to everyone for all these details.

I don't have time to 'corroborate' my Dad's story (as I recollect it) that they did not visit Ellis Island. I remember asking about this in particular fairly late in his life and he said no about Ellis Island. I intend to find a genealogy forum and ask some questions about Ellis Island history. Like everything else, Google searching leads to too many false positives. Dad's story was one of docking in New York and walking to a train station following instructions given to him and his brother. I doubt that their sponsor (the purchaser of the ticket who expected hard farm labor, hand milking 25 cows morning and evening, haymaking, etc. until the ticket was paid for) chose to provide them with Pullman service to Chicago. Certainly they must have traveled in coach. That pretty much makes it the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad as the others left from the New Jersey shore, across from New York. Since fares were ICC regulated it is clearly a toss-up, perhaps the station closest to the docks makes the most sense.

thanks again,

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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby electricron » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:04 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Ron, either Wiki is mistaken (so what's new) or you made a reporting error, but Pennsy used Union Station and not La Salle (Central and Penn using same terminal? Uh, not likely).

You are correct, I got it wrong, the PRR facility in Chicago was Union Station. ;)
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby CLamb » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:26 pm

baumgrenze wrote:Thank you to everyone for all these details.

I don't have time to 'corroborate' my Dad's story (as I recollect it) that they did not visit Ellis Island. I remember asking about this in particular fairly late in his life and he said no about Ellis Island.


If he did not pass through Ellis Island that means he did not travel steerage. Higher class passengers were cleared through immigration on board the ship. The implication is that his sponsor spent more than the minimum amount on the fares. You should be able to find his name on the passenger manifest which would also indicate in which class he traveled.
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby CComMack » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:47 am

North German Lloyd (NDL), owner of the SS München, had a partnership in the 19th Century with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but I don't know if that partnership survived the First World War. I agree with the other posters that the best way to attack this problem is by going through the passenger manifests to see if there is any additional information recorded there. As for your father's walk through New York from the dock to the train, it may be a red herring. NDL was a huge company that had docks on both the Hoboken and Manhattan sides of New York Harbor, and from the ground level, Jersey City was not architecturally distinct enough from New York City to be automatically distinguishable to a complete newcomer.
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby Ken W2KB » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:37 pm

CLamb wrote:
baumgrenze wrote:Thank you to everyone for all these details.

I don't have time to 'corroborate' my Dad's story (as I recollect it) that they did not visit Ellis Island. I remember asking about this in particular fairly late in his life and he said no about Ellis Island.


If he did not pass through Ellis Island that means he did not travel steerage. Higher class passengers were cleared through immigration on board the ship. The implication is that his sponsor spent more than the minimum amount on the fares. You should be able to find his name on the passenger manifest which would also indicate in which class he traveled.


Yes, and the rest were processed at Ellis Island and over half of those were barged to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City. . . . The present terminal was completed in 1889 and received the stream of immigrants entering America from Ellis Island off the Jersey City coastline. The new arrivals proven "clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to land" could board barges for the mainland, which for more than fifty percent, was the CRRNJ terminal in Jersey City." Source: http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/L_Pages/Liberty_State_Park.htm
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Re: New York - Chicago - Sept 1929 - Passenger Service

Postby mmi16 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:29 pm

baumgrenze wrote:Thank you to everyone for all these details.

That pretty much makes it the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad as the others left from the New Jersey shore, across from New York. Since fares were ICC regulated it is clearly a toss-up, perhaps the station closest to the docks makes the most sense.

thanks again,

baumgrenze


B&O fares were constructed from New York, they had used Pennsylvania Station from WW I until 1926. After 1926 the provided bus service from their New York ticket office and various hotels to the ferry. The buses and ferry were a part of the through fare from New York to Chicago.

I am not conversant with the Erie's or Lackawanna's provisions to get passengers from New York to their Jersey terminals. Note, in 1929 the Erie and Lackawanna were separate carriers - the Erie operated through New York to Chicago. The Lackawanna connected with the Nickle Plate at Buffalo to provide through service New York to Chicago.

Finding a 1929 Official Guide would provide definitive information concerning the services offered by all carriers, but would provide no information about fares.
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