New Travel Technologies

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"Transcontinental routes of Pacific Greyhound Lines." Courtesy the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

During the twentieth century, improvements in travel technology, combined with a new interstate network of reliable roads, gave Americans a dizzying array of travel choices. Trains got faster and more comfortable. Long-distance bus companies were born for both everyday and tourist-specific transportation. Cars got bigger and were designed to travel longer distances. And airlines were a traveler’s dream, creating the ultimate vision of luxury travel. These improvements are reflected in the travel maps and road atlases of the day, as the fascination with geography became less about mapping distances and more about seeing America as a whole. The leisurely steamboat cruises of the nineteenth century must have seemed quaint, compared to the hustle and bustle of train stations and hundreds of jetliners crisscrossing the sky each day.