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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 City and Suburb: Chicago and Park Forest, Illinois, 1950s Suburban Strip: Sandy Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 1949 On the School Bus: Martinsburg, Indiana, 1939 Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s 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 Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960-1970 Going Global: Los Angeles Introduction Grand Plan Stop the Bulldozers! A New World for America's Auto Culture The Interstate Economy See the U.S.A. Crawl and Sprawl Safety
16: On the Interstate:  I-10, 1956–1990

See the U.S.A.

Trains were once the way to travel long distances. But after World War II, as high-speed highways covered the nation, Americans traveled by automobile more than ever before. The interstates killed some towns, cutting them off from the traffic sweeping by on its way to the gas, food, and lodging now available at interstate interchanges. Other towns boomed, as the relative cheapness of a journey by automobile made travel and tourism an ever more important American industry.

Building loyalty

Free guides, maps, and games found at gas stations and rest stops provided tourist information and built customer loyalty.

Brochure, Scenicland, U.S.A., 1964
Brochure, Scenicland, U.S.A., 1964
Brochure, Children’s Fun along the Road, 1984
Brochure, Children’s Fun along the Road, 1984

On the Road

Guenther and Siewchin Yong Sommer drove their 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix for 32 years, visiting 251 national parks, monuments, memorials, forests, historic sites, historic parks, seashores, recreation areas, historic trails, and scenic areas. They stayed on the road as long as a month at a time, sometimes sleeping in the car. The Sommers drove to all 49 continental states, including a trip to Alaska on the old Alaska Highway. They traveled more than 150,000 miles.

Pontiac Grand Prix convertible, 1967
Pontiac Grand Prix convertible, 1967
More horsepower, style, comfort, and pleasure in driving—these were the qualities that appealed to owners of “performance cars” in the 1960s. Americans devoted more time to leisure activities on and off the road, and fast, sporty luxury cars became popular.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Saguaro National Monument, Arizona
Saguaro National Monument, Arizona
Historic route marker, 1990

Cities and states began erecting historical markers along roads in the early 20th century as automobile touring became more common and the public's interest in the history increased. The first modern highway historical marker program started in Virginia in 1927 to highlight local history and increase tourism. The markers originally were designed to be read from a moving car. As automobile speeds increased the plaques were redesigned and often incorporated into roadside pull-offs or rest areas.

This marker, one of over 2,500 in Pennsylvania, was located in Bedford County, overlooking the Midway Service Plaza near Exit 11 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Historic route marker, 1990
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