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ALLEN RUSSELL SAALBURG (American, 1899–1987) Transportation in New York’s Past, 1938 Signed: Allen Saalburg Oil on canvas laid onto aluminum, 48 x 74G inches.
E. EVERETT HENRY (American, 1893–1961) Fort Dearborn–Chicago, 1938 Signed and dated: Everett Henry N.Y. 1938; Oil on canvas laid onto aluminum, 48 x 74G inches.

In 1938, The Pennsylvania Railroad Company decided to enhance their premium trains in anticipation of improving economic times. Famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy (1893–1986) was commissioned to redesign the line. His sleek “Buck Rogers”–style locomotives and train cars, known as the “Fleet of Modernism,” are today recognized as hallmarks of the art deco–era American streamline style.

Loewy’s elegant lounge cars, the pinnacle of 1930s luxury rail travel, were decorated with large murals. These grand paintings were executed by three artists, Allen Saalburg (1899–1987), Everett Henry (1893–1961), and Louis Bouche (1896–1969). The murals’ overarching theme is the story of America presented through the juxtaposition of old and new methods of transportation. Celebratory and optimistic, the paintings speak of a time when the country, having endured the Depression, could be proud of its humble beginnings and be confident in its place at the forefront of nations. Saalburg’s Transportation in New York’s Past (pictured above left) originally hung in car 8118, Harbor Point. Henry’s Fort Dearborn–Chicago (pictured above right) adorned car 8119, Harbor Springs. Courtesy of Haley & Steele.

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