The Broadway Limited was the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) premier named passenger train, operating one train daily in either direction between New York City and Chicago, via Philadelphia. It replaced its predecessors, the Pennsylvania Limited (1887-1902) and the Pennsylvania Special (1902-1912). The Broadway was inaugurated in 1912 and outlasted the Pennsylvania Railroad, operating under Amtrak until 1995. The name referred not to Broadway in Manhattan, but rather to the "broad way" of the Pennsylvania Railroad's four-track right of way along a large portion of the route.
In the heavyweight era, the PRR normally operated the Broadway Limited as an extra-fare, eight-car train with an open-platform observation car at the end, such as Continental Hall and Washington Hall. Inside, the observation cars were paneled in walnut and furnished with large, upholstered chairs, fresh flower bouquets, writing desks with engraved stationery, and a secretary to take dictation. The Pullman sleeping cars built in the 1920s had all private rooms, consisting of compartments, drawing rooms, and single bedrooms.
On June 6, 1938, the Broadway Limited was completely re-equipped with lightweight streamlined steel cars to replace its heavyweight steel cars. This was the same date that new, streamlined equipment made its debut on rival New York Central's 20th Century Limited. The new equipment's industrial design was a product of Raymond Loewy, who also designed the PRR GG1 electric locomotive as well as some streamlined steam locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), most notably the S1 and T1 Duplex drive classes. This train was only one of three pre-World War II PRR trains to receive such an equipment investment; the others were the General (New York - Chicago), the Spirit of St. Louis (New York - St. Louis), and the Liberty Limited (Washington - Chicago). Other PRR trains used heavyweight cars until after the War. Most of the equipment in the 1938 upgrade was built new by Pullman-Standard between March and May of that year, but the diners, RPO and baggage cars were rebuilt from heavyweight cars by the railroad's Altoona shops. The 1938 consist included the following equipment:
The new, streamlined equipment traversed the 900.7miles between New York and Chicago in 16 hours, the same timing as the New York Central's 20th Century Limited. Though the Pennsylvania's route was 60 miles shorter, slower speeds across the Allegheny Mountains between Altoona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania equalized the two trains' times.
In 1948, the PRR again re-equipped the Broadway Limited with new streamlined equipment. The all-sleeper train offered compartments, bedrooms, duplex rooms, roomettes for a single occupant and drawing rooms for three persons. The buffet-lounge-observation cars built by Pullman Standard were named Mountain View and Tower View. They had squared-off observation ends, instead of the tapered or rounded ends in the 1938 version, and contained two master rooms with radio and showers.
Also introduced was a twin-unit dining car and a mid-train lounge car, such as Harbor Rest, described by a PRR brochure as "cheerful, spacious...richly appointed for leisure with deep, soft carpets...latest periodicals are in the libraries. Harbor Rest also had a phone and bar.
The February 1956 Official Guide listed the westbound Broadway Limited (train #29) consist as having fourteen cars normally assigned: nine sleeping cars between New York and Chicago, one additional sleeping car from New York continuing through to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe's Super Chief, the twin-unit dining car, lounge car, and observation car. The train departed New York at 6 p.m. and arrived at Chicago the following morning at 8:45 a.m.
In much earlier days, cars from PRR's Exchange Place terminal in Jersey City were added at Newark. Passengers from the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad's Hudson Terminal could transfer to these cars, and connections from Hudson Terminal were listed in PRR timetables.
When Amtrak commenced nationwide operations on May 1, 1971, the Broadway Limited continued to use the all-PRR route, with a split at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for trains to Washington, DC via Perryville, Maryland along the former Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mount Joy and Lancaster Railroad, Columbia and Port Deposit Railway and Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad until November 30, 1975. On November 12, 1990, due to Conrail's desire to abandon part of the former Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway in northwest Indiana, the line was rerouted to use the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad west of Pittsburgh into Chicago. After the trips departing New York and Chicago on September 9, 1995, the Broadway Limited ended service, though it was briefly brought back as the Three Rivers. In 2005 the Three Rivers service was discontinued by Amtrak west of Pittsburgh, and later renamed the Pennsylvanian, which operates as a daylight coach and snack-car service subsidized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Between 1980 and 1987, the Broadway looked like this:
Between 1987 and 1995, the Broadway looked as such:
Starting in 1993, one of the Broadway's equipment sets looked like this:
In addition to these consists, during the summer an extra Amfleet II coach and Heritage Fleet 10/6 sleeper was added to the equipment sets.