Blast from the past

new york central hudson engine

All aboard! Next stop... the future.

We came across this photo today while getting Carl's piece about the Livingston Ave Bridge together. It's a locomotive from the old New York Central railroad -- the railroad organized by Erastus Corning (the great grandfather of the longtime mayor of Albany).

We love the sleek vintage futurism of the locomotive's design. It looks like a rocket ship from an old Flash Gordon flick.

The engines were designed by Henry Dreyfuss, one of the celebrity industrial designers of the 1930s and 40s. Among Dreyfuss' many notable designs is the classic "Lucy" telephone.

This streamlined engine design (the "Hudson") went into service in 1938 after being manufactured in New York Central's huge West Albany yard (the engine under the hood was produced by Alco in Schenectady). The stylish locomotives powered the famous 20th Century Limited line.

If/when New York ever gets high-speed rail, we kind of hope the engines look this.

photo: Robert Yarnall Richie via Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

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If you're ever in the area, The Orchard Tavern has a mini-museum dedicated to what was once down the hill from them. There's a small room off the bar with pictures of workers, trains and warehouses dating back to the late 1800's. Stop in at lunch time and you might find Dick Barrett in the flesh, eating a bite and protecting his photos like a momma bear to her cubs.

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