Serving New York, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 19 and 20
Predecessor railroad train numbers: Southern 37 and 38; 1 and 2 (1970s)
The Southern Railway inaugurated the Crescent Limited in 1925 as their flagship train between New York and New Orleans, running through Atlanta, Montgomery, and Mobile, Alabama, named both for New Orleans' Crescent City nickname and for the fact that the train's route was crescent-shaped.
The Crescent Limited name was dropped after a few years due to the Great Depression, but on April 30, 1938, it was reintroduced as a streamlined train with a streamlined name, now known as just the Crescent.
The Southern's other main New York-New Orleans train was the Southerner, running via Birmingham, Alabama and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In the late 1960s, due to declining ridership, the Southern combined the two trains as the Southern Crescent on the Southerner's former route.
Southern was one of the few railroads to choose not to join Amtrak in 1971, and so the Southern Crescent continued, running between Washington and Birmingham daily (with a connection from Boston provided by Amtrak), extended to New Orleans three days a week. Southern ran a classier operation than Amtrak (for example, serving meals on real china in the dining car while Amtrak used plasticware on their trains), but eventually threw in the towel on their passenger operations at the end of the 1970s. Amtrak took over the train on February 1, 1979, extending the northern terminus back to New York City, reshortening the name to Crescent, and restoring daily operation over the entire route.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1956) (1972) (1979) (2002) (2002) (1979) (1972) (1956)
2:00P ----- 2:15P 3:15P Dp New York Ar 1:52P 1:35P ----- 9:00A
6:10P 7:00P 7:30P 7:45P Washington 9:45A 9:10A 8:15A 4:55A
2:05A 3:00A 3:34A 4:05A Charlotte 1:29A 12:20A 12:05A 7:15P
8:35A 8:30A 9:05A 9:53A Atlanta 7:46P 7:05P 7:00P 1:45P
----- 12:05P 12:15P 1:14P Birmingham 2:07P 1:55P 2:10P -----
11:40A ----- ----- ----- Montgomery ----- ----- ----- 7:15A
6:55P 8:00P 8:00P 8:28P Ar New Orleans Dp 7:00A 6:45A 7:00A 11:00P
The Amtrak Train Names Project