Train from NYC to Paterson, NJ in 1934?
June 8, 2011 9:08 AM   Subscribe

In 1934, could you travel by rail from New York City to Paterson, NJ? What route would you have taken, with which train-lines? If you could not have traveled by rail, would there have been a bus route?
posted by Marquis to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd think the Erie Railroad that later turned into the Main Line for NJ Transit would be the one you would've taken. See this map from 1884.
posted by Grither at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2011

Yes. Paterson, NJ has been served by a branch of the Erie Railroad--the Paterson and Ramapo Railroad--since 1848. What cursory research I have done does not indicate that the station was closed for any extended length of time since then.
posted by valkyryn at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2011

Response by poster: So Penn Station direct to Paterson?
posted by Marquis at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2011

So Penn Station direct to Paterson?

No. To Hoboken, then a ferry.
posted by JPD at 9:36 AM on June 8, 2011

or the Path.
posted by JPD at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2011

Eh, actually turns out it was an Erie branch, so that would have gone to Pavonia, then either the path or a ferry.
posted by JPD at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2011

Yup, Pavonia.
posted by ob at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2011

The Hudson and Manhattan Railroad operated the Hudson Tubes trains between NJ and NY until 1962 when the Port Authority took it over.
posted by andrewraff at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2011

Best answer: No. To Hoboken, then a ferry.

You could also have transferred to a Pennsylvania RR train in Newark and gone through the tunnels into Penn; they were completed in 1910.

So the trip, if you were starting on the Jersey side, would have been Patterson to Newark on the Erie, then transfer to an inbound Pennsylvania train in Newark. Two separate tickets.

(In 1934 a passenger would have been able to ride directly from Newark to Penn without having to change trains; this might have been something of a novelty as it had only been possible for a year or so. Prior to 1933, through passengers on the Pennsylvania had to take a steam train from Newark to Manhattan Transfer, and then an electric under the tunnels into Penn.)

But the original question was the reverse ... Manhattan to Patterson. The trip would depend where you were starting from in Manhattan. It might be advantageous, if you were in far enough downtown, to get on a Hudson & Manhattan (now PATH) train at Exchange Place, take it to Manhattan Transfer, get on a Pennsy to Newark, and then take the Erie up to Patterson. Or, if they were uptown, you could get on a direct train at Penn Station to Newark, stay on it (though it would stop at Manhattan Transfer to pick up H&M transfers), and ride out to Newark that way.

All of this is extremely dependent on the year. If you were in 1934 or before, you'd actually have to change trains at MT even if you were staying on the Pennsy. In '35 you wouldn't have. But just a few years later, in 1937, MT was closed, and the H&M was realigned to go directly into Newark Penn Station, meaning you could do the Exchange Place -> Patterson trip in only two legs.

So you picked a rather interesting time for that trip.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

I haven't been able to find either an Erie or PRR timetable for 1935 online that would cover the lines in question, but if you are really interested you might want to contact the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society and see if someone has an offline collection that you could have access to. Their archives are located in Lewistown, PA, and open by appointment.

For the Erie side of things, you might want to try the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society. Their archives were formerly located at the University of Akron but are being moved to the Special Collections department of Cleveland State University library.

Also, there is some disagreement between various sources on when the electrification from Penn Station through to Newark (eliminating the transfer at Manhattan Transfer) was completed. Some places say 1933, others say 1934. So if you want to be absolutely accurate there might be some research to do there as well.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2011

Did the Erie have a passenger station in Newark? Current-day Newark Broad Street was the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western's, and the Erie and the DLW didn't merge until 1960.

I would think the route would be to take the Erie to Pavonia, and from there either take a ferry or the H&M.
posted by Godbert at 11:02 AM on June 8, 2011

The 1884 map linked by Grither above seems to indicate that the Erie ran through Newark, although the name and location of the station isn't given.

Here is a timetable from 1937 for the Newark branch of the Erie, which shows service from Paterson all the way into NYC by ferry. The timetable suggests that the ferry only takes about 15 minutes, so it might have been faster to do this than either of the all-rail routes I suggested above. Also this would have been one through ticket (at 2c/mi, rounded up to the nearest nickel) rather than two.

Allegedly, leaving Paterson at 5:50AM, you could get into the Chambers St ferry terminal at 6:57. The total cost would have been 45c ($6.76 in 2010 using government inflation figures).
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:23 PM on June 8, 2011

As for the Erie station in Newark referenced on that timetable and Grither's map, I think it would have been the "4th Street Station" and it's now gone.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:40 PM on June 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for those answers, and particularly the outstanding help from Kadin2048. Really grateful.
posted by Marquis at 7:41 AM on June 9, 2011

Response by poster: Is there anywhere I can find out the fare price for

Penn - Newark [Pennsylvania]
Newark - Paterson [Erie]
posted by Marquis at 7:43 AM on June 9, 2011

Best answer: Newark - Paterson on the Erie is given, for 1937 anyway, in the timetable linked in my comment at 11:23, specifically this page. The fare is 2c/mi and then you have to see how many miles you're traveling, then round up to the nearest nickel.

E.g., Paterson is at MM 20.7, and Newark is at 9.3, so that's 11.4 miles, multiplied by 2 cents is 22.8, rounded up to the nearest nickel is 25c. So it would have cost a quarter for the trip, in coach (air conditioned!). If you wanted to ride in a Pullman, it was 3c/mi.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a 1935 Erie timetable, and I'm not sure how much fares would have changed from '35 to '37. (I think that fares were regulated at the time, so they might not have changed much.) There are people who collect railroad timetables though, so the information probably exists, it may just not have been digitized yet.

I haven't been able to find a PRR timetable ... which is odd because in general I think PRR stuff tends to be a lot more sought-after by collectors, and there are substantial archives of it. But it may just all be offline.

Since this thread seems to be getting some serious Google juice (I keep coming across it as I'm searching for things), here are some links that others may find relevant:

PRR Employee Timetables and Track Charts (Wayback link)
Locations of PRR Archives
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2011

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