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Places

The Postcards That Captured America’s Love for the Open Road

From Mid-Century Until Today, “Greetings From” Postcards Have Combined a ‘Fantastical View’ of the Country With Car Culture Obsession

By Anne Peck-Davis and Diane Lapis
November 20, 2018

The most prolific producer of the iconic 20th-century American travel postcard was a German-born printer, a man named Curt Teich, who immigrated to America in 1895. In 1931, Teich’s printing company introduced brightly colored, linen-textured postcards that remain familiar today—the sort that trumpeted “Greetings from Oshkosh, Wisconsin!” “Greetings from Rawlins, Wyoming!” or “Greetings from Butte, Montana!”

Like so many industrious strivers who came to the United States at the close of the 19th century, Teich pursued his postcard business as a …

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Journeys

Why Americans Invented the RV

In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

By Terence Young
September 4, 2018

On August 21, 1915, the Conklin family departed Huntington, New York on a cross-country camping trip in a vehicle called the “Gypsy Van.” Visually arresting and cleverly designed, the 25-foot, 8-ton conveyance had been custom-built by Roland Conklin’s Gas-Electric Motor Bus Company to provide a maximum of comfort while roughing it on the road to San Francisco. The New York Times gushed that had the “Commander of the Faithful” ordered the “Jinns… to produce out of thin air… a vehicle …

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Identities

How the Pickup Truck Carried the American South Into the Future

From 'Rusty Rattletraps' to 'Big Black Jacked-Up' Rides, the Iconic Vehicles Symbolize Blue-Collar Identity While Flaunting Bourgeois Prosperity

By James C. Cobb
July 2, 2018

The pickup truck’s rise from its crude, makeshift origins to the almost luxury-item status it enjoys today amounts to a Horatio Alger tale with a technological twist, providing a striking allegory of cherished national legends of progress and upward mobility.

In the early 20th century, a number of Americans, seeking a more expeditious means of hauling material that could not be crammed into or strapped atop the traditional motorcar, took their tinsnips to the family flivver, affixing a large box …

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Journeys

How Americans Fell in Love with the Open Road

As the Automobile Industry Took off, Drivers Discovered the Romance and Freedom of Long-Distance Travel

By Peter J. Blodgett
August 13, 2015

Tens of millions of Americans have hit the road this summer. The all-American road trip has long been a signature adventure, but once upon a time the notion of your own motorized excursion of any length would have seemed impossible.

In 1900, Americans were hampered by wretched roads and limited by the speed and endurance of the horses that powered buckboards, coaches, and wagons. If they had an urge to travel far distances, they had to rely upon the steam …

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