On June 6, 1938, new editions of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited and the New York Central's 20th Century Limited went into service between New York and Chicago. In the depths of the great Depression, the two rival railroads had agreed to minimize risk and cost by streamlining their premier name trains at the same time, using Pullman-Standard to build similar rolling stock for both trains.
But while the Century and the Broadway were siblings under the skin, their look and feel was dramatically different. Raymond Loewy, the Pennsy's favored industrial designer, styled the Broadway to appeal to the conservative, old money clientele that frequented the train. For the movie stars and new money New York crowd that favored the Century, however, designer Henry Dreyfus created what many historians have called the classiest train ever to grace American rails. The 1938 Century was arguably the high point of service and style in the history of American passenger service.
Loewy's dramatic styling of the new J3 Hudsons that led the Century quickly became an icon for both the New York Central and the Art Deco movement in general. The striking fin on the engine's rounded nose was reminiscent of a Roman gladiator's hat and gave the same impression of invincible power. Unlike earlier streamlined designs that attempted to disguise a steam locomotive, Lowey's styling highlighted its machinery.
Under the shrouding, the Century's new J3 engines were the final, most powerful refinement of the NYC's signature Hudsons. Like most steam engines, they received upgrades over their service life - one of the most dramatic being the addition of PT centipede tenders, beginning in 1943. Just two feet shorter than the engine itself and 30 tons heavier with a full load, the PTs allowed a Hudson to run from New York to Chicago with just one coal stop, picking up water on the fly from track pans at 80 mph.
For 2006, only MTH offers the New York Central's signature locomotive in four prototypical versions - with or without Scullin disc drivers, and with or without the massive PT tender. All feature the superb level of detail, industry-leading speed control, variable smoke output, accurate NYC passenger station announcements, and digital quality sound you have come to expect in a Premier locomotive.