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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 Crossing the Country: Somewhere in Wyoming, 1903 Americans Adopt the Auto Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 The People's Highway: Route 66, 1930s-1940s Roadside Communities: Ring's Rest, Muirkirk, Maryland, 1930s Family Camping: York Beach, Maine, 1930s 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 New York Connected The Oak Port Traffic
The Connected City

New York, New York, 1920s

As you approach New York’s harbor, you pass a map of the city showing bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure, and exhibit cases with stories of the city as a hub of immigration, manufacturing, and culture. Then you are “aboard” the U.S. Lighthouse Service ship Oak, a buoy tender that maintained the seaways leading to New York Harbor. Looking down, you can see the actual engine room of the ship, a two-floor immersive experience. Sounds of the engine, harbor traffic, and work on the buoy tender's deck bring the setting to life.

View from the exhibition
View from the exhibition

Water, Water Everywhere

America’s earliest cities grew up next to the rivers and oceans that connected them to each other and to world trade routes. Small colonial outposts expanded into major centers of population, commerce, manufacturing, and culture based on their ties to this natural transportation network. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, railroads, canals, and road systems brought prosperity to landlocked cities. Still, the country’s largest cities remained those along the water.

New York City in the 1920s demonstrated the nation’s continued reliance on maritime commerce. Bordering one of the finest natural harbors in the world, the city handled almost half of America’s international trade. People, agricultural products, raw materials, and manufactured goods of all kinds came and went through its giant waterfront railroad terminals, conveyed in thousands of ships dispatched by more than 200 shipping companies. The sea-lanes of New York served the needs of the city and those of the nation as well.

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