Mercury Departing, Cleveland, Ohio, 1936

With the landmark Terminal Tower in the background, this image captures the moment The Mercury departs from the Union Terminal. The Cleveland Mercury, operating on a daily roundtrip between Cleveland and Detroit, was introduced on July 13, 1936

The New York Central Railroad “Mercury” was a family of daytime streamliner passenger trains operating between midwestern cities. The Mercury trains were designed by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, and today are considered a prime example of Art Deco design.

The goal was a new streamlined trains focusing on speed and innovation. “Mercury,” the name of the Roman god of messengers, was chosen for its connotations of speed. The new train was marketed as the “Train of Tomorrow” The success of the Mercury led to Dreyfuss getting the commission for the 1938 redesign of the NYC's flagship, the 20th Century Limited, perhaps the most famous train in America.

The Mercury trains continued in operation until the 1950s, with the final survivor, the original Cleveland Mercury, making its last run on July 11, 1959.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Photograph Date: 1936
Medium: Chromogenic Print
Edition: 200

Additional Information

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About the Photographer

J. Baylor Roberts

Mild-mannered and self-effacing, Joseph Baylor Roberts (1902-1994) was nevertheless one of the most dependable National Geographic staff photographers of the mid-20th century. He photographed anything and everything anywhere in the world, contributing to nearly 60 stories between 1936 and 1967. Though nearly 60, he was selected to accompany the submarine U.S.S. Triton when it made its historic first submerged voyage around the globe.

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