B&O station in the Chanin Building

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B&O station in the Chanin Building
Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 3:15 AM

Excerpt from B&O Magazine (1930)

One of the most unique plans ever placed in operation by any railroad is the arrangement which was inaugurated by the B. & O. on August 29, 1926 for the handling of its passengers into and out of New York by means of a fleet of commodious motor coaches. Unique, because it was the first of its kind to be undertaken by any railroad company, and, today, is the most complete system of coordination of motor coach and railroad transportation.

By this arrangement, all passengers destined to New York or Brooklyn over the B. & O., upon arrival in the Jersey City Terminal, simply step from the train into comfortable motor coaches waiting in the train shed directly alongside the tracks, and, with their hand baggage, are taken to any one of four centrally located motor-coach stations, or nine intermediate stops along the coach routes, including a number of New York’s leading hotels. No long walks through crowded stations, no stairs, no bother with hand baggage.

Upon leaving Jersey City, the coaches drive right on to waiting ferry boats for the trip across the Hudson River to the New York side. Thus, passengers remain in the coaches during the entire trip from trainside at Jersey City to their destination in New York or Brooklyn – open air all the way.

The route between Jersey City and New York gives not only a short and refreshing water trip, but also an opportunity to view the wonderful architectural panorama of the New York sky line, with its miles of giant buildings and towers that rear upward hundreds of feet from the river’s edge.

This same convenient service is available for passengers leaving New York or Brooklyn. They can board one of our motor coaches at any B. & O. coach station or route stop, and are taken directly to the side of the train in the Jersey City Terminal. Even their hand baggage is cared for. Checked at the coach station, it goes on the same motor coach with the passenger, and is delivered right on the train. There is no extra charge for this service.

This arrangement has also relieved passengers leaving New York or Brooklyn of anxiety, which under the constantly increasing city traffic in New York, is becoming a serious matter. When passengers board a B. & O. motor coach, they have "made their train,” because the train does not leave Jersey City until the coaches arrive.

One of these motor coach stations is located in the Chanin Building, at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, opposite Grand Central Terminal, with subway connection from the main lobby to Grand Central and neighboring hotels. One of the outstanding conveniences of this station is the loading and unloading of passengers inside of the station away from street traffic.

In 1928 the new Chanin Building was the tallest building in midtown and the 3rd tallest in New York. The Commodore Hotel on the right is next door to Grand Central Terminal. The Chrysler Building was built at the opposite corner in the foreground.


Excerpt from Telegraph Workers Journal (1928)

The first radio electric clock ordered by a railroad company has been placed in the new passenger station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the Chanin Building, Forty-second Street and Lexington Avenue, New York City. It is a master clock, controlling clocks in the ticket office and waiting room, and about 500 clocks in other parts of the building. Correct time is picked up daily, at noon and at 10 p. m., by a radio set built into the clock. The radio automatically sets the clock as the signals are received from the navy radio station at Arlington, Va.






Waiting room


Stairs to the subway and Grand Central, and to the balcony level of the station.



The driveway was on E. 41st St.

Brooklyn station was at 191 Joralemon St.


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Posted by NorthWest on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 7:36 PM

Fascinating. Thank you for finding all of this and sharing it!

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 8:22 PM

Motorcoach service continued until B&O discontinued service to New York at the end of April 1958.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 3:19 AM

Was it not 1952 that B&O passenger service north of Baltimore was discontiniuied, not 1958?  I admit my memory on this may be incorrect.

I ussed the Columbus Circle B&O station in the late winter or early Spring of 1945, when our 8th Grade Columbia Grammar School class visited Washington, DC.

Later, 1957-1969, I often used the airlines ticket office in the Channon Building's 2md floor.  Also, at one time I believe the Atlabtic Coast Line had a passengers service office and ticket window in the building, which i also used.

Thanks for a great posting with terrific photos.

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 3:55 AM

It was 1958, according to article at link, A Royal Blue Line Recall by Bert Pennypacker.

It seems B&O invented 'junk mail' to advertise motor coach service directly to customers.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 19, 2014 1:25 PM

excelent article, well worth time pulling up and reading.

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, June 21, 2014 12:39 PM

Thanks, Mike, for the articles.

Sad to say, I do not have a B&O timetable from 1957; I have one from 1956 (and more from earlier), and the one issued at the end of April, 1958 (and later issues, as well). Those from 1956 and earlier show service from New York City, and the one from April, 1958, shows service from Baltimore only. My wife, when living in New York (1951-1962), used the B&O at times when traveling to/from Washington; she did not tell me when she was last able to travel thus.


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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, June 22, 2014 6:27 PM

Johnny, I remember your wife as the lady my friend was devoted to.  She was pretty brave to move to New York! --Mike

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, June 22, 2014 7:29 PM

Article from Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Convention of the American Railway Engineering Association held at the Palmer House, Chicago, Illinois, March 6, 7 and 8, 1928

By M. F. Steinberger, Special Engineer

During the World War and for a number of years thereafter, the trains of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad entering and leaving New York used the terminal facilities and station of the Pennsylvania Railroad. However, in the year 1926 it became necessary to find another method of continuing this service and arrangements were made with the Central Railroad of New Jersey for the use of both its station, track, and ferry facilities. Under the plan used by that and other roads whose rail lines terminate on the New Jersey shore it is necessary for passengers to make their own way from there to their destinations in Manhattan and New York, using, of course, the ferry boats of the roads upon which they traveled for the movement between the Jersey shore and Manhattan.

The management of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad realized the desire of the public for a more convenient method of reaching their Manhattan destinations, and further having noted the increasing popularity of the motor vehicle, determined to make use of that means of transportation to give the service which it felt was desired.

Having reached that conclusion it was then necessary to develop the details involved in the successful inauguration of the plan, and studies were made to determine the following data:

First: The manner in which the operation should be conducted, namely: whether by the Baltimore and Ohio itself, by a subsidiary company, or by contract with an established operator.
Second: Where and how many stations should be established.
Third: The route or routes which should be followed.
Fourth: The number, type and character of motor coaches.
Fifth: The character of the stations, their fittings, etc.
Sixth: The ticketing and baggage arrangements.
Seventh: The manner in which the operation should be conducted at Jersey City, and other stations, so passengers  could leave or board motor coaches with a minimum of delay and maximum ease.

In the consideration given the proper location of stations the Passenger Traffic Department, of course, had available information as to trend of travel and the location of strategic points by which the needs of travelers could best be met. Their studies, therefore, led to the choice of the following places in the business, hotel and theater districts, as the points at which passengers were to be received and delivered:
(a) Equitable Insurance Building (33rd Street and Seventh Avenue) in proximity to the Pennsylvania Hotel and Station.
(b) McAlpin Hotel.
(c) Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
(d) Pershing Square (opposite Grand Central Station).
(e) Vanderbilt Hotel.
(f) Consolidated Ticket Office (57 Chambers Street).

After some experiment an additional stop was installed at Wanamaker’s (4th Avenue and 9th Street). In addition to these stops, early in November further stations were established on Joralemon Street and at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn.

Having decided that the proper method to be employed in transporting passengers between Jersey City and points east of the Hudson River was by motor coach, the next step was to determine upon the most desirable means of operating the motor coaches which would be employed. Three plans were considered, namely :

(1) Operation by the Baltimore and Ohio, under its own operating officers.
(2) Formation of a subsidiary company to perform the services.
(3) Negotiation of a contract with an experienced operator already functioning in New York.

The latter plan was the one adopted and the Fifth Avenue Coach  Company chosen as the operating medium, and a contract entered into with it. Among the reasons for this action were the fact that they are the largest operators of motor coaches in New York, and have adequate garages, service stations, etc., and a trained personnel. Furthermore, they have so large a fleet that they are always in a position to supply surplus equipment to meet any emergency which may arise. It was obvious that with all these things in their favor, as well as the fact that the time to prepare for the installation was limited, such a company could establish the service with greater ease than the railroad could, as it would have had to build up from the bottom an operation with which its officers were less familiar than the coach company’s staff.

Upon the conclusion of the preliminary negotiations covering the operations, and the decisions as to probable locations of the stations, studies were made to determine the routes to be used. Trial trips were made in motor cars and coaches over various suggested travel lanes; the time required and traffic interferences encountered carefully noted and studied. As a result of these studies the coaches move over streets on which they can travel with the least interference and quickest time to reach the scheduled stops and stations. They are as follows:

Liberty St. Route
Ferry to foot of Liberty St.
West Street
Chambers Street
Lafayette Street
Fourth Avenue
Park Avenue to Pershing Square Station on 42nd Street with stops at Consolidated Ticket Office on Chambers Street, Wanamakers and Vanderbilt Hotel

Twenty-Third St. Route
Ferry to 23rd St. Terminal
Twenty-third Street
Seventh Avenue
34th Street
Park Avenue to Pershing Square Station on 42nd Street with stops at Hotel McAlpin, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Vanderbilt Hotel

Brooklyn Route
Same as Liberty Street Route to Canal Street
Manhattan Bridge
Jay Street
Concord Street
Henry Street
Joralemon Street to the Station on that Street and stopping at St. George Hotel en route.

As previously stated these routes were picked as the best, after numerous surveys were made. Of course it should be understood that in the event unforeseen traffic delays develop, the coach operators can exercise the right to deviate from the routes laid down, but are obliged to make the scheduled stops. The question as to type and character of motor coaches then arose, and after careful consideration it was decided to place in the service what is known as the Y type coach, manufactured by the Yellow Coach and Truck Manufacturing Company of Chicago, they being of latest design and construction, giving convenient and comfortable accommodations with easy riding and smooth operation. It was felt that the affiliation of these manufacturers with the principal metropolitan coach lines of the country gave them experience which enable them to produce the coach best fitted to the needs of this particular and specialized service.

Orders were then placed for twelve such coaches; ten for service between Jersey City and Manhattan. Since that time the demands have been such as to make necessary the purchase of additional equipment, so that there are now in operation on the Jersey City-Manhattan-Brooklyn runs 22 motor coaches.

It will possibly be of some interest to give a brief description of the equipment used, and that is done in a general way without attempting to give too many technical details of construction.

In order to conform as nearly as possible to the Baltimore and Ohio train color scheme, the body of the coaches is painted Pullman green. The belt rail is royal blue with gilt letters reading “Baltimore and Ohio Train Connection.” The window posts, hood top and wheel disks are of a light off-shade of green and the roof, fenders and hubs are black.

They are 28 feet 8 inches in length, the body proper being 22 feet 5 inches long, 7½ feet wide and 8 feet 1 inch high, and are of the de-luxe parlor car type.

The doors for passengers are of the sedan type and open outward. The door at the rear right side is for handling baggage in and out of a separate compartment which has been provided to take care of baggage requirements. In this compartment taxicab seats have also been provided for emergency use.

Only hand baggage is handled, there being no provision for trunks. A rail is also placed around the tops of coaches so that baggage can be handled there in case there is an overflow or some emergency requires the use of the taxicab seats in the rear compartment.

There are seats for twenty-two passengers, in addition to a seat for the driver and one for the coach attendant. These seats are arranged: ten double seats, five on each side and two single seats, one on each side beside the wheel housing.

The space over the wheel housing is occupied by a nickel-container designed as a receptacle for small packages. Its primary purpose, of course, is to eliminate the ordinary seat over the wheel housing which is uncomfortable, and was therefore not desired. In addition, as has been indicated before, there are four auxiliary folding seats in the baggage compartment and the regular seats of the operator and an attendant. The seats are of the comfortable wicker chair type, having arm rests and divided backs, and double cushions provide proper resilience for smooth riding.

The frame work of the coach bodies is of second growth, thoroughly seasoned ash, all joints being treated with white lead or glue and either screwed or bolted. The roofs are grooved strips over ash car lines, overlapped by heavy duck dipped in white lead and painted, thus providing a waterproof roofing. All exterior panels have sheet aluminum covering so that wooden parts will not become exposed, and the entire cowl, windshield and door pillars are of unit steel construction.

The side panels on the interior are covered with fabric leather to match the seats, while the side post panels and roof headlining are of matched grain mahogany. Each side post is equipped with a plate-glass mirror. All hardware is finished in bright nickel and the floor covering is of battleship linoleum.

The windows are post-spaced with 44-inch centers, of plate glass, without frames, the glass slides being embedded in felt channels. They can be opened and shut by operating crank-type regulators. This arrangement applies to all side and rear windows, the rear windows being stationary. The side and rear window drapes slide on nickel rods.

Windshields are of plate glass framed with metal, having upper ventilating panels and electric windshield wipers. To supplement air circulation provided by windows and windshield are four roof ventilators in the sides and tops of cowl.

It was, of course, necessary that passengers be comfortable at all times, so that besides the means provided to keep them cool in summer, provision had to be made to keep them warm in winter. Therefore, a thorough system of heating was installed. Adjustable valves permit the exhaust gas to be carried through the thin-walled steel tubing that encircles both sides of the coach bodies, all exposed parts being covered with perforated steel guards; these guards are enameled to blend with the general interior colorings.

Special arrangements have been made for heating coaches electrically while standing for long periods at their terminals, before stations or in train shed at Jersey City. This was done to assure that coaches are comfortable when passengers are received after waits when engine was not running.

The interior illumination is furnished by ten opal glass dome lights of 21 C.P. and head lights are provided with ante-glare lenses, drum shaped and finished in nickel. This is important, as passengers are used to well lighted trains and the same degree of light had to be furnished on the coaches. Every effort is made to have passengers feel that the coach ride is but a continuation of train ride, with all its facilities. Other exterior lights are the front and rear markers, stop and combination tail and stop light.

The coaches are equipped with six cylinder sleeve valve engines, the valves having a bore of 4½ inches with a 5½ inch stroke. The upper and lower crank cases are of aluminum. The crank shafts are 2¾ inches, properly balanced to eliminate distortion and providing a smooth, quiet and powerful engine. The transmission control mechanism, drive shafts, propellor shafts and rear axle are off-centered, permitting a low-level chassis, obviating aisle interference and affording more entrance space.

Steering is by means of a well-raked steering column actuating a cam and lever type gear. Quick and positive braking is secured by 4-wheel air brakes, in addition to which there is the usual hand or emergency brake. The air compressor is built as an integral part of the engine and the air is passed through an automatic control regulating the pressure in the storage tank, then back through an application to each wheel.

While it is appreciated that these descriptions make rather dry reading, it is felt necessary to indicate in not too great detail some of the salient points in connection with the construction of these coaches.

Having picked the location of the permanent stations, plans were then effectuated for equipping them. In order to put the service on as high a plane as possible, the appointments were made as complete as possible, and an air of richness as well as quiet dignity striven for. It was and is the constant aim to maintain the highest standards and prevent any blatant advertising or appearances in any direction. These stations are equipped with the best furniture possible to secure, comfortable chairs, splendid hangings and rugs and quiet and mellow lighting arrangements. All the necessary ticket racks, etc., were installed, but out of sight. Men’s and women’s rest rooms, maids and uniformed porters in addition to the ticketing forces were provided.

One of the questions which immediately arose when it was decided to use motor coaches was just how were passengers to be transferred between trains and coaches. It was apparent, of course, that they must be handled in motor coaches from Jersey City via ferry boats to Manhattan, and it immediately became apparent that they should be able to step directly from the trains to the motor coaches or vice versa. To accomplish that purpose, the Central Railroad of New Jersey assigned two tracks definitely for use of Baltimore and Ohio trains, and the tracks between were taken up and replaced by a broad roadway. This permits the motor coaches to be placed in position directly beside the trains so passengers can make the transfer with a minimum effort. The coaches are spotted beside the train in such positions as to require a minimum effort on part of passengers in passing to or from them.

Another difficulty presented itself through the fact that though the roadway constructed was wide enough for its purpose, the coaches could not be turned on it. To meet this difficulty a turntable was constructed at the end of the platform and satisfactorily solved the problem. It is, of course, manually operated, it being the duty of the coach operator and attendant to see that it is turned.

When this portion of the operating procedure had been solved consideration then had to be given the handling of the motor coaches on the ferry boats so that the comfort and safety of passengers would be absolutely safeguarded. Arrangements were made so that unless it is absolutely impossible motor coaches be placed on the aprons so as to be out in the open. This is for the double purpose of giving those who elect to remain in the coaches for the boat trip a clear view of the New York skyline, and to assure light and fresher air than would be possible if the coaches were in the interior of the boats.

Further to insure safety and comfort, additional chocks were placed on the boats chained to their sides so that they could be placed under the wheels to prevent movement. Instructions were issued to operators to stop their engines immediately upon coming to rest on boats, place cars in the proper gear to further prevent movement, set their brakes, keep their tail lights burning, and they themselves instructed not to leave their places behind the wheel.

Other vehicles are not permitted within a certain distance, and the coaches are not permitted to exceed specified speeds in moving on or off the boats. No doors are permitted to be opened until the coaches are completely at rest. After that time passengers are informed that they may leave the coaches if they desire to move about the boat, but told at what time they are to be back in their seats.

Every effort is made to insure the comfort and convenience of passengers. For instance, here is the way they are handled when entering New York. The train conductor canvasses the train before reaching Philadelphia to determine the number of New York passengers aboard. This information is telegraphed to New York so that sufficient motor coach equipment will be available. After leaving Philadelphia additional information is forwarded so that if any change in plans is necessary, such change can be made.

At Philadelphia a train attendant boards the train and interviews every New York passenger. He gets his New York destination from him and then tells him the proper coach route to use, whether the 23d Street route, Liberty Street route or Brooklyn route. He tags his baggage showing the proper coach and issues a stub which indicates the route and also shows the coach number. The latter procedure is to assure that the passenger and his baggage get on the same coach. Different color tags are used for each route, so that porters can properly identify and handle baggage. After the attendant has made his rounds, during course of which he proffers any other assistance possible, such as securing hotel accommodations, etc., the train porter gathers up the baggage and places it in the vestibules of cars, both Pullman and day coach.

Immediately the train comes to a stop the station porters take the baggage from the train and distribute it to the coaches shown on the baggage tags, the passengers proceeding direct to the motor coaches with no delay and no concern as to their belongings. Before boarding the coach they present the stub given by the train attendant to the coach attendant, which insures that they are on the proper motor coach. A force of station attendants is also present to assist the passengers if any are uncertain as to their proper movements.

The motor coaches then go to their places on ferry boats and on arrival on the Manhattan side continue on their routes, making the scheduled stops. At all hotel or other stops, other than the final station stops, the coach attendant handles their baggage from the coaches, placing it in the possession of passengers or hotel or other porters as they may desire. This service is, of course, performed without cost to the passenger, he being relieved of the necessity of tipping porters, paying taxi fares, etc., and, even in the event he is proceeding beyond the final coach stop and uses a taxi, his taxi charge is less.

Any passenger who for any reason desires to remain only for the day in New York may check his bags at one of the regular stations without charge and either call for it later or, if he is nearer to another one of our stations, when he desires to leave New York, he may telephone the station at which the baggage was left, giving the check number, and the baggage will be sent to Jersey City where he will find it beside his train on his arrival. In the case of a Pullman passenger, if he telephones his seat or berth number, he will find his baggage in his berth or beside his seat when he reaches the outbound train.

With respect to outbound passengers the general method is the same. They may check their baggage at stations at any time and it will be sent to their proper place on the train. They may purchase tickets at the regular stations and board motor coaches there, or they may board them at the other scheduled stops. If a passenger does board a motor coach at one of these points without having purchased a ticket, one dollar is collected from him by the coach attendant, a receipt being given therefor. This receipt is accepted by the train conductor as having a value of one dollar when applied to the purchase of a ticket to some point on the Baltimore and Ohio. This is to prevent any other than bona-fide passengers from riding the motor coaches.

One of the advantages of the system is the fact that passengers are to all intents and purposes on the train as soon as they board the coach. This is because trains always await the arrival of the coaches. However, in the event that an accident should occur, serious enough to cause material delay to the motor coach, the attendants have instructions to secure taxicabs from any source and forward passengers in them, giving proper authorization slips which are honored by ticket agents at designated point. This applies no matter if passengers are going to or from trains.

In order that the passengers may be thoroughly acquainted with the stops, the schedules have been prepared in such a way that both the place and time of all regular stops is shown. These schedules were prepared with great care and made conservatively so that there may be no question of their maintenance.

The Fifth Avenue Coach Company provided a new garage to take care of this equipment and carefully organized a trained corps of operators, attendants, supervisors, and despatchers. Before the operation was started these men were picked and classes were held at which they were taught and drilled in the details for which they were responsible. Dress rehearsals were held, that is, coaches were run over the routes and all the details of operation were performed.

Such questions as the assignments of coaches and men to particular runs, tours of duty, inspections of coaches, oiling, greasing, repairs, etc., are functions performed under the contract by the Fifth Avenue Coach Company.

The establishment of the service herein described on August 29, 1926, was an innovation in terminal motor coach operation. It gives a pleasing service to patrons, removes the annoyances occasioned by the employment of porters and walks through passenger stations to taxis, eliminates the so frequent scramble for taxis, dissipates baggage worries, eliminates necessity for tips, and has many attractive features which appeal to the traveling public. The results obtained since its establishment give ample justification for the performance of such service in the manner described.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, June 23, 2014 9:22 PM

thanks   -- - most informative

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 2:05 AM

Brooklyn Eagle ads


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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 2:24 AM

The date of the second fleet of buses?   And there was a third fleet, about 1948.

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 3:10 AM

New Fleet was 1937. This next ad refers to New Years Day 1954.


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