Streamlining: in railroading, it refers to applying aerodynamic principles and lightweight building materials (aluminum alloys) to both locomotive and passenger cars to increase train speed. The Union Pacific Railroad launched their initiative build a high-speed, lightweight, internal-combustion powered “Streamliner” in 1933. This project was a response to the precipitous loss of railroad passenger revenue in the 1920s due to the increase in bus and automobile use. The Union Pacific sought to save profits by running faster trains at lower cost. The first streamliner produced in early 1934 was three cars long, powered by a 600-horsepower engine, and nicknamed “Little Zip.” It toured the west to big crowds, and in regular service generated good passenger ticket sales. This train was renamed City of Salina and was joined later that year by the City of Portland, a six-car train that included sleeping cars. The third streamliner was City of Los Angeles (1936) followed in a few months by the City of San Francisco. The success of these trains and other new streamliners justified constructing more streamliners for the Chicago-San Francisco and Chicago-Los Angeles routes. These later streamlined trains included the sleeping cars “Rose Bowl” and “Hunter’s Point.”
The streamliners to Chicago advertised the trip as taking a mere 39 ¾ hours – less than 40 hours, still a long time without a chance at a good night’s sleep. Hence the need for sleeping cars in addition to dining cars on the train. The Rose Bowl with its 18 individual travelling roomettes was originally named “Telegraph Hill” and was one of the cars in a City of San Francisco train, renamed when assigned to the City of Los Angeles.