Wall Street Journal Review
Last Saturday the Wall Street Journal Review ran a piece on railways and design and how the two intertwine in our book Logomotive. ‘The design of the locomotives themselves may have left the deepest impression,’ writes Peter Saenger, ‘especially the sleek, art deco-influenced “streamliners”.’
Perhaps the sleekest and most glamorous of the streamliners was The 20th Century Limited, running overnight from Grand Central, New York to Chicago. This 1938 advertising brochure from the Huntington Library collection, chosen by Peter Saenger to illustrate his article, captures the pizzazz of those days and hints at the technological mastery that lay behind the styling.
Peter Saenger writes the Exhibit feature for the Wall Street Journal Review, the arts and ideas section in the weekend edition. Exhibit is published most weeks, in print only.
The role of designers
‘Where railroads went,’ begins Peter Saenger, ‘designers were sure to follow’. Those designers included not only the railway staff and advertising agencies who dreamed up logos and marketing strategies for the rail companies, but also Ian Logan and Jonathan Glancey, the designer and design commentator who have written Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream. As Saenger succinctly puts it, Logan and Glancey ‘trace how rail companies shaped their public image’. They pioneered some now-classic advertising strategies. ‘Around 1900, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western had a New York agency create the fictional character of Phoebe Snow, said to be the first such figure to tell stories in U. S. ads.’
My gown stays white
From morn till night
Upon the road
So ran the ditty about Phoebe Snow, celebrating the clean-burning qualities of the Lackawanna’s coal. There was also Chessie the Cat, mascot of the Chesapeake & Ohio.
Download the article
If you would like the read Peter Saenger’s article at a convenient size, you can download it here: Wall Street Journal Article
The 20th Century Limited
To hear more about the famous 20th Century Limited express, and the red-carpet treatment given to its passengers, read our news article Red Carpet at Grand Central.