History: Train Travel in the 1800s- These photos will take you inside the Rococo period Pullman train car.


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Categories: Mobility

The Pullman Palace Car Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars in the mid-to-late 19th century through the early decades of the 20th century, during the boom of railroads in the United States. Its workers initially lived in a planned worker community (or “company town”) named Pullman.

George Mortimer Pullman was always an inventive, innovative entrepreneur. Legendarily, an extremely uncomfortable overnight train ride from Buffalo toWestfield, New York, caused him to realize that there was a vast market potential for comfortable, clean, efficient passenger service. He had a great deal of experience with compact and efficient sleeping accommodations thanks to his experiences with canal boats on the Erie Canal. He formed a partnership with former New York state senator Benjamin C. Field in 1857, one of his close friends and neighbors from Albion, to build and operate several sleeping cars. Pullman and Field secured a contract from the Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad to develop a more comfortable sleeping car. Pullman and Field converted two moderately successful cars. Field, more interested in politics than rail cars, assigned his interest to Pullman in exchange for future loans.

After spending the night sleeping in his seat on a train trip from Buffalo toWestfield, New York, George Pullman was inspired to design an improved passengerrailcar that contained sleeper berths for all its passengers. During the day, the upper berth was folded up somewhat like a modern airliner’s overhead luggage compartment. At night the upper berth folded down and the two facing seats below it folded over to provide a relatively comfortable bunk for the night. Although this was somewhatspartan accommodation by today’s standards, it was a great improvement on the previous layout. Curtains provided privacy, and there were washrooms at each end of the car for men and women.

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