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The Modern Railway Terminus

Some Recent Developments in Station Buildings in London and New York


STATIONS - 15


The new Waterloo terminus of the London and South Western Railway


































THE HUB OF A BUSY RAILWAY

A glimpse of the new Waterloo terminus of the London and South Western Railway.




RUSKIN cherished very emphatic opinions of the railway, but his views concerning the average railway terminus would have been far more entertaining. Yet there is no reason why the dead-end of the steel ribbon should be the object for obloquy. The Midland Railway convincingly demonstrated that aestheticism in regard to a railway terminus might be fulfilled quite as completely as with a cathedral when it undertook its St. Pancras station.


THE MAGNIFICENT FRONTAGE OF ST. PANCRAS STATION






THE MAGNIFICENT FRONTAGE OF ST. PANCRAS, THE MIDLAND RAILWAY TERMINUS IN LONDON








For many years the Victoria terminus of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway was a disgrace to the West End. When the growth of traffic demanded heroic measures in the provision of additional facilities, the company, instead of following the prevailing fashion of tacking-on kennel-like extensions to an existing dingy structure, decided to provide a building worthy of the situation. It was a costly move, involving an outlay of about £1,000,000, but it was the only possible solution to the problem. Eight acres of land adjacent to the original station were acquired and cleared. The Grosvenor Canal - which abutted and ran parallel with the line - was reclaimed as far as Ebury Bridge. Roads and bridges were raised, and the levels of the thoroughfares leading to the station adjusted. The street frontage was utilised as an extension of the adjacent hotel, and, executed in a free Renaissance style, now forms an imposing and pleasing entrance. The interior embellishments, so far as they affect the convenience of the public, were planned upon more liberal, lines, with spacious booking offices, waiting rooms, etc, while a circulating area of 25,000 square feet was provided to give elbow room for congested business.




THE SEA OF GLASS FORMING THE ROOF OF VICTORIA STATION













THE SEA OF GLASS FORMING THE ROOF OF THE NEW VICTORIA TERMINUS OF THE LONDON,

BRIGHTON AND SOUTH COAST RAILWAY




















From the railway’s point of view, the transformation was more far reaching. Over 18,000,000 passengers use this station yearly, while during the twenty-four hours some 700 trains pass in and out. The expenditure of a million sterling improved the train and platform capacity of the station by 80 per cent. Nine platforms were laid down to serve as many roads, of which four are restricted to local traffic, while by making a platform 1,500 feet in length it is possible to draw two trains alongside of each, so that the capacity of the terminus is increased to eighteen trains. By providing a third or middle road in the bays, together with crossings, it is possible to bring in or take out a train when the track alongside the same platform is already occupied at the approach end.


INTERIOR VIEW OF VICTORIA STATION











AN INTERIOR VIEW OF VICTORIA STATION

This photograph gives some idea of the enormous length of the platforms.
















Another busy terminus which has undergone a similar upheaval is that of the London and South-Western Railway at Waterloo. The coop-like structure, with its low, drab, miserable roof, which enclosed the platforms of this station for so many years, has gone for ever. Here, again, the fact that traffic had outgrown the capacity of the station was responsible for the transformation. But the station, being situate in a densely populated neighbourhood - one of the most crowded spots in South London, in fact - rendered the roping-in of additional ground exceedingly expensive. Some £2,000,000 were set down as the price for improved facilities, but it was accepted.


INTERIOR VIEW OF VICTORIA STATION
















ANOTHER INTERIOR VIEW OF VICTORIA STATION























The improvement was one of the most sweeping that ever has been attempted in connection with railway termini in Great Britain. To bring it into effect there was a wholesale clearance of streets, schools, chapels, churches, and what not. Hundreds of people were evicted, and the first step which the railway was called upon to fulfil was the provision of housing accommodation for this dispossessed crowd. Altogether the railway devastated 8½ acres, and thereby brought the superficial area of the terminus to 24½ acres.


The number of approach roads were increased from four to eleven, and these, immediately outside the station, spread out fan-wise to serve 23 platforms with 30 roads. The requirements of the public were borne in mind in planning the new terminus, inasmuch as the grouping of the platforms, serving different classes of traffic, is carried out upon rational lines, the circulating area is enlarged, while the railway administration itself is provided with ample accommodation for carrying out the intricate work associated with a busy and popular railway.


THE NEW WATERLOO STATION













THE NEW WATERLOO STATION OF THE LONDON AND SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY


















But if one desires to realise what can be accomplished in railway terminus planning, one must go to the United States, where striking works of this character are offered. Previous to the year 1900 all but one railway were deprived of a footing in New York City. The other trunk lines came to a dead end on the western banks of the Hudson River, and the passengers had to negotiate this waterway by ferry. The Pennsylvania Railroad suffered seriously under this handicap, and in view of the fact that the aggregate of people handled by the ferries had risen from 59,000,000 people in 1886 to 140,000,000 people in 1906, it resolved to establish its terminus in the Empire city of the Empire state; to abolish the ferries so far as passenger business was concerned in favour of tubes. The latter were successfully completed by a British engineering firm, and simultaneously the raising of the large and architecturally magnificent railway station was taken in hand.


For this purpose a vast tract of land was laid waste, offices, houses, and a host of other buildings of a varied description being swept away. In fact, it was the biggest individual clearance of occupied land in the history of the city. When this task was completed, the company excavated the site to a depth of some 50 feet to bring the tracks below the street level, so as to gain easy entrance to the tubes laid beneath the Hudson River.


MAGNIFICENT NEW YORK CITY TERMINUS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD










THE MAGNIFICENT NEW YORK CITY TERMINUS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD.

The building covers a huge block 788 feet 9 inches long by 799 feet 11¼ inches deep. The 21 roads

are 36 feet below the street level.













The Roman Doric style was selected for the building. It occupies practically a huge square block 788 feet 9 inches in length by 799 feet 11¼ inches deep. The whole of the building, which covers 8 acres and has a maximum height of 153 feet, is devoted to the requirements of the public and the handling of the trains, there being no superstructure in the generally accepted sense of the word, such as for the provision of administration offices or a hotel. The main waiting-room is 314 feet 4 inches in length, 108 feet 8 inches in width, and 150 feet in height, while there are a number of smaller waiting rooms, baggage rooms, telephone and telegraph offices - in fact, every possible convenience that the public can desire. Travertine stone, of which imperial and modern Rome is built principally, entered largely in its construction, the requisite material being imported into the States for the first time for building purposes from the quarries in the Roman Campagna, near Tivoli, Italy.


One conspicuous feature concerning this terminus is the number and spaciousness of the entrances and exits, both for foot and vehicular traffic, so that the minimum of time is occupied in passing in and out of the station. Moreover, the incoming and outgoing traffic above the train platform level is completely separated, so that no confusion can arise. The northern side of the terminus is assigned exclusively to the Long Island Railway, which is a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and being equipped with distinct booking offices, entrances, and exits, this heavy suburban traffic does not come into contact with that of the main line.


The tracks are placed 36 feet below the street level, and for the first time upon an American trunk railway the English raised platform, enabling one to step in and out of the cars without climbing, was adopted. There are 11 passenger platforms, and to expedite movement these are fitted with 25 baggage and express lifts. In addition to the station there is a vast yard, the whole covering no less than 28 acres. The yard has 16 miles of sidings, capable of holding 386 vehicles. The aggregate length of the 21 standing tracks in the station is 21,500 lineal feet. Over 150,000 cubic yards of concrete were used for the retaining walls, foundations, street bridging, and sub-structure. The station building is supported by 650 masonry columns, the greatest weight upon one of which is 1,658 tons. The exterior walls of the terminus aggregate 2,458 feet - nearly half a mile - in length, and 490,000 cubic feet of pink granite were used in their erection. Altogether, 550,000 cubic feet - 47,000 tons - of this granite were utilised in the construction and ornamentation of the pile, in addition to 27,000 tons of steel, and

15,000,000 bricks, weighing 48,000 tons. The undertaking, from the arrival of the housebreakers to clear the site until

the station was ready to receive trains, occupied six years, while the whole of the masonry was completed in approximately thirteen months.


The consummation of this daring project was due to one man - Alexander Johnston Cassatt. From the moment he assumed the reins of the Pennsylvania system he decided to establish his railway in the centre of New York City, although it cost £23,000,000 to do it.


Within easy reach of the Pennsylvania terminus has arisen another stately pile devoted to the exigencies of a busy railroad. This is the Grand Central station of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. Four times has this great railway been called upon to overhaul its New York terminus. In the early days this railway was not permitted to run its trains in and out of the station by steam power. The cars had to be hauled in and out by horses, and the difficulties attending such a crude system may be imagined, especially during the terrifying blizzards of winter.


This road suffers under one serious handicap. All traffic has to be handled over four tracks extending through tunnels. With the dawn of the present century it was realised that further facilities would have to be provided. Some 46 acres of ground were required, and the chief engineer of the road, Mr. W. J. Wilgus, suggested the most startling scheme that ever has been attempted in railway terminus engineering. As the land in the immediate vicinity of the station is so valuable, he

suggested that the tracks should be depressed, disposed upon two levels, and that, when completed, the upper level should be enclosed. Then he proposed that upon this roof streets should be laid out, and huge buildings erected for the benefit of commerce, private residential purposes, and pleasure. He admitted that the cost would be prodigious, but he emphasised the fact that the revenue accruing from the letting of the buildings would represent a remunerative interest upon the outlay.


The scheme, notwithstanding its unusual and daring character, was approved. No fewer than 68 tracks were provided, disposed on two levels, and all converging to the four tracks leading out of the city. The lower level is devoted to suburban

traffic, which is handled over 27 roads, while the upper level is exclusively used for express passenger service, for which 41 tracks are provided. The whole site of 46½ acres had to be excavated to an average depth of 45 feet, and the digging of this huge pit involved the removal of 3,000,000 cubic yards of soil, mostly rock, which had to be hauled from 10 to 25 miles away to be dumped. In this depression massive columns and beams had to be set in position to offer a solid foundation for the express track level, which task alone absorbed over 60,000 tons of steel. Above this viaducts and bridges had to be erected in order to restore the intercommunication of the city, and everything had to be accomplished under traffic conditions so that the railway services might not be hampered one tittle.


Work was commenced on the east side of the old structure and completed section by section westwards. By the time the two levels had been completed 32 miles of new roads had been laid, and the greater part of the express level roofed over ready to receive skyscrapers, hotels, boarding houses, clubs, theatres, and so forth. These are to be let upon long leases - probably 99 years; and by the time this superstructure work is completed not a vestige of the railway, with the exception of the two chimney stacks of the power house in one corner, will be visible. As the railway traffic is worked entirely by electricity no difficulties in operation will be experienced, and the whole of the buildings erected overhead will derive light, heat, and power from the existing power station.


MAIN WAITING ROOM OF THE NEW YORK CITY TERMINUS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD



THE MAIN WAITING ROOM OF THE NEW YORK CITY TERMINUS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD





Externally the facade of the building is massive and imposing. There are four levels - the street-level gallery, the express level, the suburban level, and below that a level for handling all baggage. Staircases have been abolished, as they induce congestion. In their place are easy sloping inclines, or “ramps”, having a rise of 8 in 100 feet. The circulating area for inbound trains comfortably holds 8,000 people; that for outbound trains, 15,000; and the commodious waiting room accommodation a further 5,000 persons. Altogether it is estimated that the terminus will hold 30,000 people without crowding, while 70,000 people are able to pass through it hourly in safety and comfort. The arrangement of the tracks enables 200 trains to be handled per hour, this capacity being achieved by the introduction of a loop system whereby incoming trains on both levels, after discharging their passengers, can swing round to run into the yard at one side to await the next call for service. This particular project is probably the most expensive undertaking of its type which ever has been attempted, inasmuch as the total cost of the scheme will be in the neighbourhood of £30,000,000.


Possibly the most extraordinary railway terminus is that of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, colloquially known as the “Hudson Tubes”, offering communication between lower New York and the New Jersey shore, and incidentally serving three big railways. Its down-town terminus in the metropolis is at the corners of Cortlandt, Dey, and Fulton Streets. The station is underground, entirely below the level of the sea, and is flanked by a reinforced concrete wall 8 feet in thickness to protect it from inundation. The space enclosed is 95 feet in depth by 185 feet wide, and over 400 feet in length. This accommodates the railway tracks. Immediately above this is the grand concourse, having a superficies of 2 acres. Above this rises a gigantic skyscraper, towering 22 floors into the air, the whole of which is occupied by more than 4,000 offices, the superficial area of which exceeds 30 acres.


In the erection of this building more than 26,000 tons of steel and 16,300,000 bricks were required. Not only is the Hudson Terminal Building one of the sights of the city, but it is also one of its busiest hives of industry, inasmuch as it is the New York home of all the leading industrial organisations of the United States. During the day its population would do credit to a country town, since it numbers over 10,000 souls, while more than 55,000 people pass in and out of the offices daily in addition to the 100,000 people who use the station in the basement. The skyscraper is the property of the railway, and the gross income from the rental of the offices alone represents over £320,000 per annum.


The provision of huge costly buildings for railway terminus purposes is by no means confined to the city of New York. Chicago, which is the busiest railway centre in the world, is contemplating a scheme for concentrating its scattered railway stations which will eclipse anything previously attempted. It is recognised as being hopelessly impossible to house all the roads beneath one roof, owing to the colossal number of people which would have to be handled. Accordingly, an alternative proposal has been discussed. This is the clearing of a huge tract in the city and the disposal of five or six mammoth stations side by side - a street of railway termini. At the moment the finest terminus in the “Windy City” is that completed in 1911 by the Chicago and North Western Railway at an expenditure of £4,750,000. While it does not compare in magnitude with those to be found in New York, yet probably it is the most expensive and most luxurious building for the business which it is called upon to handle. The building covers 69,760 square feet, contains 8 platforms serving 16 roads, and handles 55,000 passengers using 320 trains, which pass in and out daily.


Virtually it is a huge hotel, everything incidental thereto being provided, with the exception of sleeping accommodation. There are private suites of apartments for ladies and children, comprising boudoir, tea rooms, bath and dressing rooms, dining saloons, emergency rooms, with full staffs of skilled nurses, chemist’s shop, gentlemen’s dressing rooms, hairdressers, manicuring, boot cleaning, lounge and smoking rooms, while last, but not least, is a large, well-equipped garage.


VERTICAL SECTIONAL VIEW OF THE NEW GRAND CENTRAL STATION OF THE NEW YORK CENTRAL AND HUDSON RIVER RAILWAY






























VERTICAL SECTIONAL VIEW OF THE NEW GRAND CENTRAL STATION OF THE NEW YORK CENTRAL AND HUDSON RIVER RAILWAY, SHOWING THE TWO TRAIN LEVELS



[From Part 19 of Railway Wonders of the World by Frederick A. Talbot, 1913]



You can read more on “The London Brighton & South Coast Railway”, “The Pennsylvania Railroad” and “Wonder Stations” on this website.