Postcards of the Penn Central

I’m not exactly sure who the Penn Central had do their design work back in the late 60’s, but whoever it was, they were probably pretty free-spirited. None of the New York Central’s Harlem Division timetables were really out of the ordinary… but after the merger with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form the Penn Central, things took an interesting turn. In the first year of the merger – 1968 – several funky timetables were churned out… but by the new year, they were pretty much forgotten. Just a small blip in railroad history.


1968 was apparently a very good year… You can, of course, see more old Harlem timetables in SmartCat.

While the really old 1800’s timetables, complete with gorgeous etchings, will always be my favorite, these 1968 Penn Central timetables are my favorite from the modern-day. Thanks to eBay, I did discover that this funky art was not reserved solely for timetables. The Penn Central released a few postcards advertising the Metroliner, which I can only say are in a similar style. Who thought that purple tint would be a good idea? Is this what people did before Instagram?




The Fast One, baby!

Captions on the cards read as follows:

The Metroliners speed you midtown New York to midtown Washington in less than 3 hours. The Express gets you there even faster. And all the speed, comfort and luxury are yours in any kind of weather.

You enjoy a swift trip – in comfort and luxury. You leave and arrive midtown; even more time saved. Use the direct-dial telephones aboard to keep in touch with your home or office.

Delicious food and drinks are yours to enjoy on the Metroliners. In the coaches eat at the Snack Bar or take your selection to your seat. In the Metroclub Cars, an attendant unobtrusively serves you at your seat.

Okay, okay, I give in. The last postcard is pretty awesome. Despite the top two being pretty horrible, I figured the set was certainly share-worthy!

6 thoughts on “Postcards of the Penn Central

  1. I noticed that the timetable lists Mount Vernon West station as simply “Mount Vernon”…I guess they hadn’t added the “West” yet. That had to be confusing since the New Haven Line Station was also named “Mount Vernon”. I don’t think we officially added the “East” till about 10 years ago.

    1. The New Haven didn’t become a part of the Penn Central until 1969, so at the time of printing the two different Mount Vernon stations were on two different railroads. In 1970, they actually tried out the name “Mount Vernon Avenue” but I guess nobody liked that very much, so by ’73 it was “Mount Vernon West.”

      Don’t get freaked out, because I didn’t know that off the top of my head. ;) I had to consult my collection of timetables. I don’t collect for the NH, so I couldn’t tell you when that station became Mount Vernon East.

      1. Mount Vernon East is located in downtown Mount Vernon, while Mount Vernon West is directly across the river from Yonkers, so the New Haven station was always the “main” station for the city.

        Metro-North continues to differentiate the two in a similar manner: Mount Vernon West shows up on tickets as “Mt V W” or “M V W” while Mount Vernon East is simply “Mt VERN.” Conductors on the New Haven also tend to say just “Mount Vernon,” while on the Harlem I’ve always heard them say “Mount Vernon West,” though the automated announcements have eroded this distinction.

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