Ready for departure in 1947 from Chicago’s La Salle Street Station the opulent Twentieth Century is 16 hours from Grand Central Station, New York.
My latest contribution to New York Social Diary – is a profile of New York Central’s 20th Century Limited. Considered the greatest train in the world. Until the 1950s, this all-Pullman streamliner was the only way to travel between New York and Chicago. Stars, moguls and socialites filled the train’s daily passenger list. Departure every evening walking down a train length red carpet from Grand Central Station was like sailing on the RMS Queen Mary.
RED CARPET TREATMENT STARTED WITH THE 20TH CENTURY LIMITED –TRAIN OF TYCOONS AND STARS THAT RAN NIGHTLY BETWEEN NEW YORK AND CHICAGO
By Michael L. Grace – New York Social Diary
Have you wondered where the much-overused phrase “the red carpet treatment” originated?
It all started with the 20th Century Limited.
It was a “Magic Carpet” high speed overnight Pullman commute between New York and Chicago as pitched in this Time Magazine advertisement.
The “Century” was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central nightly from New York to Chicago. From 1938 until the last run in 1968, passengers walked down a crimson carpet to their waiting cars. This was only done for the departure from New York. Stretching from the observation car to the engine – the football field length rug was specially designed for the Century – thus, the “red carpet treatment” was born.
Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint as seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest.” They are dining in the Century Club with views of the Hudson River in the background. They soon would head for Saint’s Pullman Drawing Room. Sleep would be easy since the Central’s route to Chicago was “water level” – along the Hudson and Lake Erie.