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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Transportation in America before 1876 Community Dreams: Santa Cruz, California, 1876 Delivering the Goods: Watsonville, California, 1895 A Streetcar City: Washington, D.C., 1900 Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 Americans Adopt the Auto Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 The Connected City: New York, New York, 1920s People on the Move On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s On the Interstate: I-10, 1956-1990 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction Decatur Motor Camp The Trailer 'Problem'
12: Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s

The Trailer “Problem”

During the Depression, thousands of Americans took to living in their trailers year-round. Because trailer residents could pull up stakes easily and because they did not pay real estate taxes, “trailerites” were seen as a social problem. During the 1930s, permanent trailer parks, such as the Ryder Mobile Home Park on Route 1 in Milford, Connecticut, began to cater to trailer residents. Although many people looked down on them, trailer parks provided a low-cost housing alternative.

Silver Dome trailer catalog, 1937
Silver Dome trailer catalog, 1937
Trailers of the 1930s were usually 16 to 20 feet long and 6 or 7 feet wide. Living in such a small space was a challenge, and many trailer families moved their domestic lives outdoors when the weather permitted. Such behavior violated 1930s notions of propriety and helped give trailers a bad name.
Fetching water, Ryder Mobile Home Park, Connecticut, 1939
At the Ryder Mobile Home Park, early facilities were primitive. Residents whose trailers lacked toilets used chamber pots or an outdoor privy, and there were limited showering facilities. “Trailerites” had to go to an outdoor tap to get water.
Fetching water, Ryder Mobile Home Park, Connecticut, 1939
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