Traveling and Hotels
Throughout history, the relationship between travel and hotels has remained a critical link between places and people. As travel became a more widespread activity, hotels became central locations for business, sociability, and entertainment.
In the nineteenth century, hotels were primarily constructed along highways and along railroads. Their locations were typically on inexpensive land. Their appearance consisted of a small lobby and exterior-access rooms.
After World War II, the hotel industry exploded. The postwar economic recovery and growth of organized labor led to massive growth in commercial travel. Combined with the rise of the automobile, the hotel industry began to transform.
During this period, hotels began to be located in commercial centers along coastal trade routes. The new generation of hotels was built by urban merchant-capitalists.
These new hotels had a variety of amenities, including parking facilities. In addition, some hotels added mini refrigerators and room service options.
By the end of the twentieth century, hotels became important symbols of America’s imperial legacy. During this time, they were also the terrain of conflict between the federal government and local communities. Hotels served as sites of public assembly and decorative showcases.
During the postwar years, Americans began to travel abroad in growing numbers. The success of organized labor increased travel, allowing incomes to rise.
As more and more Americans traveled, the hotel industry began to transform into an immense national industry. In a three-decade period of economic growth, the industry grew at a record pace.