Sleeping car

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The interior of a Pullman car on the Chicago and Alton Railroad circa 1900. The car is configured in this photo for daytime operation.

The sleeping car is a railroad car with sleeping facilities. Some of the more luxurious types have real beds, and rooms not shared with strangers. In the United States, Amtrak includes this type of sleeping car on most of its overnight routes. An example of a more basic type of sleeping car is the European couchette car, which is divided into compartments for four or six people, with bench seating during the day and double- or triple-level bunk-beds at night.

The cars made longer-distance travel by train more popular and enjoyable since they allowed truly comfortable sleeping on the train. The first sleeping car appeared in the 1830s, but was not economically successful. The man who made the sleeping car business profitable was George Pullman, who built a luxurious sleeping car (named "Pioneer") in 1865.

The Pullman Company owned and operated most such cars in the United States through the mid twentieth century, attaching them to passenger trains run by the various railroads. In addition, some sleeping cars were owned by the railroads running a given train but were operated by Pullman. The owner of a particular car was usually stenciled on the side of the car above the vestibule side doors.

During the peak years of American passenger railroading, several all-Pullman trains existed, including the Super Chief on the Santa Fe railroad, and the Twentieth Century Limited on the New York Central Railroad. Pullman cars were normally a dark Pullman green, although some were painted in the host railroad's colors. The cars carried individual names, but usually did not carry visible numbers.

After World War II the American railroads bought out the Pullman Company's sleeping car business and operated the cars themselves, though the cars usually were still named rather than numbered, and still carried the word 'Pullman' on them. Pullman, as Pullman-Standard, continued in the manufacture of railroad cars until 1980. With much passenger service having been abandoned from the 1930's through the early 1970's by American railroads, in May 1971 all but a few of the remaining intercity passenger operations were transferred to Amtrak, which today operates all of the remaining scheduled sleeping car services in the United States.

One unanticipated social consequence of the sleeping car was its convenience as a rendezvous site for lovers, who could be anonymous and free from the constraints of home. Important romantic scenes in such films as Some Like It Hot and North by Northwest take place in sleeping cars.

Another unanticipated consequence was the effect of the Pullman car on civil rights and African American culture. Each Pullman car was staffed by a uniformed porter. These were almost always African-Americans and, by convention, were often addressed as "George" by passengers. Although this was servant's work, it was relatively well-paid and prestigious, and so Pullman porters were in a position to become leaders in the black communities where they lived, helping to form the nucleus of the black middle class. And, like all the other railroad trades, the porters came to be unionized. Their union became an important source of strength for the burgeoning civil rights movement in the early 20th century, notably under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph.

Because they moved all across the country and stayed in local black communities between shifts, Pullman porters also became an important means of communication for news and cultural information of all kinds. The black newspaper Chicago Defender gained a national circulation in this way. In particular, porters used to sell phonograph records bought in the great metropolitan centers, greatly adding to the distribution of jazz and blues and the popularity of the artists.

In Europe the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, French for International Sleeping Car Company, first focused on sleeping cars, but later operated whole trains, including the Simplon-Orient Express, Nord Express, Train Bleu, Golden Arrow, and the Transsiberien (on the Trans-Siberian railway). Today it restricts itself again to sleeping cars, and to onboard railroad catering.

See also

External links

Template:Passenger carsde:Schlafwagen ja:寝台車 (鉄道) pl:Wagon sypialny sv:Sovvagn


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