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Joseph T. Richards portfolio of notes and drawings on the Pennsylvania Station project

1902-1913
 Collection
Identifier: 2471

Abstract

Joseph T. Richards (1845-1933) was a career civil engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company who participated in several of their large construction projects in the first decade of the twentieth century. The records consist of the contents of a small portfolio of documents relating to the construction of Pennsylvania Station and its associated yards and terminals.

Dates

  • 1902-1913

Extent

43 item(s) (In one oversized flat box)

Biographical Note

Joseph T. Richards (1845-1933) was a career civil engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company who participated in several of their large construction projects in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Richards was born near Rising Sun, Maryland, on February 12, 1845. He was educated at West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County and entered the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) as a rodman in August 1869. From 1874 to 1875, when railroad building all but ceased during the depression, he was a mining engineer for the Cambria Iron Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Returning to the PRR on March 1, 1875, his rise was relatively rapid. He was promoted to Assistant to the Chief Engineer on March 1, 1883, Assistant Chief Engineer on June 24, 1885, Engineer of Maintenance of Way on the staff of the General Manager on March 1, 1893, and Chief Engineer of Maintenance of Way on June 1, 1903.

Richards's chief accomplishments were helping to direct the restoration of PRR lines following the massive destruction wrought by the Johnstown Flood of 1889 and contributing to the railroad aspects of the design for Washington Union Station (1907) and Pennsylvania Station in New York (1910). On June 16, 1913, he was relieved of active duties and made Consulting Engineer of Maintenance of Way until his retirement on March 1, 1915. Richards died at Cape May, New Jersey, on May 7, 1933.

Scope and Contents

The records consist of the contents of a small portfolio of documents relating to the construction of the Pennsylvania Station and its associated yards and terminals belonging to Joseph T. Richards (1845-1933). The collection complements the much more extensive coverage of Pennsylvania Station and its associated tunnels in other Hagley accessions.

While the actual design and construction of the project, from the tunnel portals in New Jersey to the car storage yard (Sunnyside Yard) in Queens, was under the control of a Board of Engineers composed of outside experts reporting to Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) Vice President Samuel Rea (1855-1929), Richards chaired three committees of PRR operating officers that set the operating parameters for the design. The history of these committees, covering 1902 to 1910, is laid out in a letter to Vice President A. J. County (1871-1944) in 1910. Most of the other items from the portfolio are copies of tables, charts, and drawings that were part of these reports. The tables generally compare the statistics of the proposed Pennsylvania Station with existing PRR stations at Jersey City, Long Island City, Camden, Broad Street-Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington Union Station and with other large, non-PRR terminals, such as Grand Central Station, North and South Stations in Boston, Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, St. Louis Union Station and terminals in Paris and London. The statistics include things like the number of passengers and quantities of baggage handled per year, number of tracks and train occupancy, cab service, restaurant capacity, telephone calls, information booth requests, and number of toilets.

The portfolio also includes small blueprint sketch drawings of Pennsylvania Station dating from 1907, encompassing all four street elevations, transverse and longitudinal sections, and floor plans from the track to attic level. The plans show an early stage of the design with several never-completed features, such as the future East River tunnel under 31st Street and spherical chandeliers in the General Waiting Room, as well as the very rudimentary Long Island Rail Road Concourse as originally planned.

There is also a profile of the tunnels between Bergen Hill, New Jersey, through Pennsylvania Station, to the portal in Queens, an early version of the track plan for Sunnyside Yard, a map of the territory between Newark, New Jersey, and Jamaica, Queens, with the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, included unbuilt extensions, highlighted in red, and a series of maps of railroad and steamship lines serving greater New York prepared by the New Jersey Harbor Commission in 1913.

Location of Copies

View this collection online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Related Materials

Pennsylvania Railroad Company records (Accession 1807), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Materials collected for the Hagley exhibit, "Machine, Monument & Metropolis: New York's Pennsylvania Station," 1903-2003 (Accession 2180), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Joseph T. Richards portfolio of notes and drawings on the Pennsylvania Station project
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400