United States in Stereo: The Birth of American Tourism
August 02, 2016
Sara Rose is a Curatorial Intern in our collections department and a first year graduate student in the Library and Information Science program (Archives Management Concentration) at Simmons College. Throughout the summer she has assisted us in our ongoing digitization efforts and online collection social media projects. She shares some insight below about some of the objects she's been working with during her internship.
Summer. A time of warm weather, long days, and of course, vacations. Whether it’s a day trip a few towns over or a weeks-long vacation across the country, Americans have had a long love affair with summer tourism. In the late 1800s there was a dramatic rise in recreational tourism throughout the United States. The newly completed trans-American railroad made interstate travel accessible to the masses, many of whom were increasingly located in urban regions after industrialization. As urban Americans flocked to the seashores and wilderness for leisure, tourism became a profitable enterprise.
National Parks, seaside resorts, and other tourist attractions promoted vacation travel within the United States. Photography played a key role in the development of national tourist attractions, making it possible to mass distribute images showing various places of interests and inspiring wanderlust for the American countryside. Below are just a few examples of this kind of tourism promotion from the over 300 sterocards in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.
This stereocard, titled “Grandeur of the Waters,” showcases the famed waterfalls of Niagara, New York. Visible on the left side of the photograph is a group of tourists taking in the view.
Another stereocard, titled “In Surf, Sand, and Sun,” depicts throngs of beachgoers on the shores of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Atlantic City, one of the earliest resort cities in the United States, has remained a popular destination for summer tourists to this day.
This final stereocard shows a street lined with cottages on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Signs can be seen offering summer rentals to the crowds of tourists who flocked to the Vineyard for vacation, as well as laborers looking for seasonal work.
To learn more about stereocards in our collection visit our previous blog posts here.
Grandeur of the Waters, Niagara Falls, N.Y., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.277
In Surf, Sand and Sun, Atlantic City, N.J., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.163
Fourth Avenue Campground, Martha’s Vineyard, 1873. Unidentified, USA. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.175