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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 People on the Move 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 On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s 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 Businesses on the Strip Leave the Driving to Us Hot Rods and Hangouts Making the Sale
Suburban Strip

Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949

A 1950 Buick Super Sedan is on display in Wallace Buick’s new Sandy Boulevard car dealership, and a salesman is trying to make a sale. It’s the postwar world, and new cars travel up and down the nation’s highways, turning places like Sandy Boulevard into bustling commercial areas. Through the window of the dealership, a young man peers at the shiny chrome car, his Cushman scooter parked next to him. Other vehicles—a Greyhound Silversides bus, a Studebaker Coupe, a GMC pickup truck, a Harley and an Indian motorcycle, and a hot rod—are traveling on the road as dusk falls.

View from the exhibition
View from the exhibition

Free and Ample Parking

Beginning in the mid-1920s, and accelerating after World War II, many grocery stores, car dealerships, and other businesses moved out of the city to the suburban strip. There they created a bustling scene where car-owning consumers could buy almost anything they needed. By moving commercial life out of the central business districts, suburban strips contributed to the economic decline of downtowns. As more people moved into the suburbs, the strips also became centers of social life.

Like many cities that boomed during World War II, Portland, Oregon, developed suburban strips. Lined with stores that appealed to the car-owning middle class, Sandy Boulevard developed rapidly in the late 1940s. In 1949, Wallace Buick moved from its downtown location to Sandy Boulevard, and became one of many auto-related businesses on the strip. Portland residents increasingly shopped on suburban strips like this. Before long, many of them would move from downtown neighborhoods to new suburbs.

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