Alexander J. Cassatt
Class of 1859
Civil Engineer, Railroad Executive
Alexander Cassatt joined the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1861, rising to president in 1899 during a period of phenomenal growth and extensive rail expansion. With skillful leadership and foresight, he established the Pennsylvania Railroad System as “the standard railroad of the world.”
He saw the immense possibilities of the air brake and introduced it after exhaustive tests. He cleared up traffic difficulties, extended and increased lines, stations, equipment, and facilities, provided necessary terminals and yards, elevated track, began electrification, and acquired interest in other railroads. He also introduced progressive employee relations policies.
Cassatt’s crowning achievement was the construction of the Pennsylvania Terminal in Manhattan, which required tunneling under the Hudson River. His statue in the terminal is inscribed: “Whose foresight, courage, and ability achieved the extension of the Pennsylvania Railroad into New York City.”