THE INVENTION OF THE AMERICAN VACATION
THE AUTOMOBILE 1914-1932
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Reinventing the American Dream

An afternoon outing

The automobile released America from the farms and cities.

In the middle and late nineteenth century, the American Dream consisted of factory or farm life for most Americans. The daily grind at the mill or in the fields was an everyday experience, for every day of the year. The late nineteenth century saw the beginning of leisure activities for more than the upper classes. Small theatres and small saloons became large institutions in the Gilded Age. The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 brought amusement to the nation. Vacationing would have been a trip to Europe for the upper classes and a steamboat or train ride for the upper-middle classes. The bounds of the rivers and tracks restricted destinations. When the automobile met the American commercial market in 1896 the idea of an individualized travel sparked the imagination of many Americans. The new found freedom that came with the automobile swept across class lines faster than municipalities could build the infrastructure to support it. Physical mobility echoed a paradigm of economic and social mobility portrayed in literature and politics


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