Burlington Zephyr, 1943
The Burlington Zephyr – named for Zephyrus, the god of the west wind and a symbol of rebirth – revolutionised train travel in America in the 1930s. This stylish menu cover showing the stainless steel speedster in all its glory was used in the dining car.
The brainchild of Ralph Budd, president of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and Edward Budd, an automobile industry designer from Philadelphia, the Burlington Zephyr was an instant hit as soon as it was revealed to the public.
This was the first time that stainless steel was used to build trains. Strong and flexible, the lightweight alloy did not rust, no matter how much it was exposed to the elements.
Streamlined both for aesthetic reasons and for efficiency – the distinctive shape also reduced air resistance.
Inside was novel too – there was air conditioning, soft lighting and none of the fussy furniture that had been installed on Pullman trains.
On May 25, 1934, the first of the renowned Zephyrs completed a 1015- mile non-stop run from Denver to Chicago in 785 minutes – an average of 77.6 miles an hour.
On Armistice Day, it entered service between Kansas City, Omaha and Lincoln, establishing the first diesel-powered streamline train service in America. Eventually, there were more than a dozen Burlington Zephyrs, linking many of the important cities in the West and travelling more than three million miles a year.
In 1936, hostesses called Zephyrettes, in distinctive gray or blue uniforms, were introduced and their duties included welcoming passengers, making announcements on the train’s public address system, sending telegrams, babysitting and supervising lunch and dinner reservations.
Courtesy New York Public Library Digital Collection
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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