Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
In the excerpt from “The Tourist: Travel in Twentieth Century North America”, James Jakle discusses all of the ways that tourists were able o get around during the 1930s. First comes the car. Now just accepted as a road trip staple, affordable cars revolutionized travel. People were able to go anywhere they wanted. This very quickly led to a fascination with the car which left the places being driven though, quite literally, by the roadside. Smoother cars, and better highways meant that people didn’t have to think about where they were driving through at all, and could instead play games, sing songs or whatnot. I know that while I was growing up, playing car games was often done, even on shorter day trips in the car. But we also had the radio, and eventually tapes and CDs. Imagine what the tourists from the thirties would do if they saw minivan with a TV screen in the back for the kids!? Jakle also talks about how by making car travel easier, the road systems became more developed. Gas stations, diners, motels and so on, which very clearly led to the chain rest stops we have nowadays. But with so much comfort and new exciting things to see on the road itself, people became obsessed with the idea of driving travel without understanding what they were going to see. They rushed through the sites at the destination in order to DRIVE to the next one and on and on until they went back home. People still do this. I grew up in Albany, so in school we went to New York for a lot of field trips. Since coming to school here I have realized how crazy our trips were. For instance combining the Met, Ellis Island and the wax museum into one day is insane. Or doing the Bronx zoo combined with seeing a matinee show is a lot. As tourists we rushed through these landmarks which one should spend much more time at. Also, like many tourists, we did these things in strange orders. Going from one side of the island to the other and back again, as opposed to a more geographically logical procession. Tourists need people from the area to tell us what to do, but will continue to reject advice that does not fit into our preconceived notion of the place.