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