The Paintings of Leslie Ragan – Advertisements for the Budd Company, Part 1

Well it might not be very Spring-like outside right now, but at least this week we did have a few days with some enjoyable temperatures. I’m not sure about all of you, but I’m certainly ready for the cold weather to be done. I always joke that my camera hibernates for the winter, which isn’t quite true, but I would much rather be taking photos of trains in some nicer weather (And yes, I suppose it is somewhat ironic that despite all that I took my recent vacation to Alaska). The good thing is that hunting for railroad ephemera is a hobby that doesn’t really require nice weather. While wandering around I happened to come across a cache of lovely artwork by famed railroad artist Leslie Ragan.

Now if you’re familiar with the blog, you may remember that I’ve already profiled Ragan, and have already gone on record with how much I love his paintings. Ragan did quite a bit of work for the New York Central, and some of it was featured on system timetables during World War II and the ensuing years. Of course Ragan didn’t work solely for the Central – he created works for a wide variety of companies and organizations – including the Seaboard Railway, the United Nations, and even the Woman’s Home Companion. But perhaps Ragan’s largest body of work were the paintings he did for the Budd Company, and used for many of their ads in the 1950’s. And it was one of those ads that seemed decidedly Spring-like, and inspired this post.


This beautiful painting by Leslie Ragan, which seems to set the mood for a long-awaited Spring, appeared in an advertisement for the Budd Company.

If you enjoy Ragan’s artwork as much as I do, this post will be a real treat, as we have quite a collection of Budd ads. So many that there will have to be a part 2 at some point in the future!

   
   
   

Budd did not only make trains – this advertisement was for car bodies, but I absolutely adore the artwork of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Read More

An interesting Harlem Division promotion…

Over the many years the New York Central was in existence they published countless advertisements and promotions to attract business and passengers. Some of them were fairly interesting – like the private
women’s room in Grand Central, which catered to the high-end ladies of the day. After all, you wouldn’t want your dress to get dirty on a long steam train journey, would you?

The New York Central even promoted venues that weren’t at all possible to visit by train – like China! A 1904 advertisement suggested all Americans should become familiar with the Chinese Empire:

Comparatively few people are familiar with the Chinese Empire as it exists to-day. In view of the constantly growing Oriental commerce of the United States, every one should become familiar with the Chinese Empire. The New York Central’s “Four-Track Series” No. 28 gives valuable statistics and information regarding the Flowery Kingdom…

Another advertisement that I recently acquired is a little bit closer to home. Published in 1937, this New York Central ad offered discounted tickets from New York to Wingdale or Wassaic. Now think about this for a second, if you are familiar with the area, what was particularly noteworthy about those two towns in that era? If you said that they both had facilities for the insane and mentally handicapped, you win a prize. The Harlem Valley State Hospital is obvious to anyone who has taken the Harlem Line up to Wingdale. Several of the State Hospital’s buildings loom over the current train platform. The location of today’s train station is not the same as it was in 1937 – it was further south and actually called “State Hospital.” Wassaic’s facility was called the Wassaic State Hospital, and it was located closer to today’s Tenmile River station.


The original State Hospital station, before this station and Wingdale were converted into today’s Harlem Valley-Wingdale.

The New York Central is remembered for things more noteworthy, like the “Water Level Route” – the first four-tracked route in the world, and the train that rolled out the red carpet for you – the 20th Century Limited. But in addition to doing those things, you could also take the New York Central to visit your institutionalized relatives… and for the low price of two dollars a round trip.

Read More

Friday’s From the Historical Archive: Advertisements for the New Grand Central

Two weeks ago I mentioned the wreck in the Park Avenue Tunnel in 1902, and how it led to electric service on the rails. Another thing the accident achieved was the replacement of the old Grand Central Depot. The old Depot at the time was serving a lot more trains than it could really handle. Trains often had to wait in order to enter the train shed. The one train involved in the wreck was waiting in the tunnel, when the train behind missed several signals and ended up crashing into it. The new Grand Central Terminal, with its two levels, was able to accommodate a lot more trains than its predecessor.

Construction on the Terminal was finished in 1913. And what does one want to do after spending $180,000,000 on a gorgeous new train station? Show it off to the world, of course! Recently I’ve had a lot of enjoyment looking at old newspapers. Although photography existed at the time, many newspapers still used engraved illustrations. And I really do love looking at these old illustrations of Grand Central.

All of those come from full advertisements shown in newspapers, like the one below:

One thing I thought amusing about the new Grand Central, was that when it opened, it had a private “Women’s Room.” And I don’t mean a bathroom. For twenty-five cents a woman could use a private dressing room, staffed by maids, to change her “costume” for a “social function.” They would even deliver her trunk straight to the dressing room! How grand! And let’s not forget that there were also hair and manicuring parlors, as well as a shoe polishing room. You know what I wonder though, was the line for that “Women’s room” out the door and around the corner like the lines today? Sometimes they really make you want to shoot yourself…

If you’re interested in seeing more old drawings and advertisements of Grand Central’s opening, click here to take a look through the Historical Archives.

Read More

1910’s Advertisement, New $180,000,000 Grand Central Terminal, New York, Has Private Apartment Where Women Can Change Their Costumes

The bottom two paragraphs read as follows:
Especial provision has been made for women travellers, and the waiting room for their use has been made especially attractive. It is finished in quartered oak and is filled with comfortable movable chairs. Adjoining it are hair and manicuring parlors and a woman’s shoe polishing room, which is attended by girls in blue uniforms.

Should a woman passenger after a shopping tour wish to change her costume for a social function she may have her suit case or trunk sent to a private dressing room, for the use of which, with a maid in attendance, a charge of twenty-five cents will be made. Little knicknacks which she may need to complete her toilet also can be purchased at a little shop which is almost at the door of her dressing room.

Read More