The 1910s Travel & Nightlife|
In the 1910s, long-distance travel was accomplished by train.
Chicago was a major rail hub during this decade. Heading east, you could ride the Broadway Limited or the 20th Century Limited to New York City. The California Limited took you from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Illinois Central, which ran from Chicago to New Orleans, brought many southern blacks to northern cities during the Great Migration.
The wealthy elite traveled in private Pullman cars, which featured plush carpets, fine furniture and exquisite woodwork. For the rest of us, there were dining cars, sleeping cars, lounge cars and club cars.
At this point, many trains did not have dining car service. During water stops, passengers ate quick meals at depot lunch counters or nearby lunchrooms. On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe line, passengers ate their meals at Fred Harvey restaurants during regularly-scheduled meal stops. Rail lines with dining car service took pride in offering the finest food available.
African-American porters, bartenders and waiters provided courteous and efficient service. The porter made up the sleeping berths, controlled the steam heat and took care of sending telegrams and mailing letters. In the lounge car, businessmen could take advantage of desks and dictating machines. You could purchase cigars, candy and playing cards in the club car.
Fred Harvey Company
1913 dinner menu
Pullman dining car waiter
In the 1910s, the average steamer could cross the Atlantic Ocean in seven days, although ships designed for speed could make the crossing in as little as four days. The ships of the Cunard and White Star Lines were the most splendid ocean-going vessels of the day. The Cunard Line owned the Lusitania (1907), Mauretania (1907) and Aquitania (1914), and the White Star Line owned the Olympic (1911) and Titanic (1912). The passenger and crew capacity of these liners ranged from 2,100 to 3,500 people. There were three classes of passengers: first class, second class and steerage.
Smaller liners in operation during the 1910s included the White Star Line's Teutonic, Majestic, Baltic and Celtic, Hamburg-America's Bismarck and Imperator, and the ships of the American and Red Star Lines.
Many large ocean liners were designed to be converted into military vessels with very short notice. During World War I, several of these ships were taken out of regular service and used as hospital and troop ships.
For first class passengers, ocean liners were truly "floating palaces." The Olympic, for example, featured opulent dining rooms, gymnasiums, reading rooms, turkish baths, grand staircases, elevators and even an indoor swimming pool. The guest rooms had fireplaces, fine mahogany woodwork, private bathrooms and servants quarters.
Below decks, the accomodations for steerage passengers were not so grand, although they were much better than what had been available in the past. The sleeping cabins were simple, containing just bunks and a washbasin. Wooden benches and family-style dining took the place of fancy dining rooms and lounges.
In The Air
In the 1910s, most people were convinced that the future of passenger flight lay with airships. Airplanes were rickety and dangerous....they might be fine for thrill rides and mail transport, but certainly not for passengers!
Also known as dirigibles, airships came in two varieties....rigid airships (built over an aluminum frame) and blimps (using internal gas pressure to retain their shape). Both types were self-powered and steerable.
Early blimps were simply hydrogen and hot-air balloons fitted with propellers for steering. Throughout the 1800s, as different types of fuel were discovered, motors were attached for added speed. The U.S. Army purchased its first blimp in 1908, and Italy used blimps for military reconnaissance missions in 1911 and 1912.
In Germany, Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin patented his rigid airship design in 1895 and built his first ship in 1900. By 1909, his company had completed five rigid airships, which were filled with hydrogen. The ships captured the public's fancy and were soon being referred to as zeppelins.
the first airline
In Germany, commercial passenger service began in 1909 when DELAG ("Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktion Gesselschaft") was formed. This was the world's first commercial airline. Between 1909 and 1914, DELAG operated a fleet of seven rigid airships, which transported 35,000 passengers on 1,500 flights throughout Germany.
rigid airships in war
The German military purchased 15 zeppelins between 1908 and 1914. After World War I broke out in 1914, Germany's passenger service was halted and the civilian zeppelins were used for wartime bombing missions. England also had a handful of rigid airships in operation during the war, having begun an airship program in 1909.
When the war ended, two new German zeppelins were built and passenger service resumed briefly. In 1921, Germany was forced to surrender her zeppelins, due to a stipulation in the 1919 Treaty Of Versailles.
The first successful airplane flight took place in 1903. At first, no one could see any practical use for heavier-than-air flight. The U.S. military didn't witness a demonstration or purchase a plane until 1908.
The situation gradually began to change in the 1910s. It started in 1909 when the first airplane dealership was formed and the first plane was purchased by a non-military group. In England, sacks of mail were occasionally transported by plane beginning in 1910, and the practice spread to America in 1911. Regularly-scheduled airmail flights began in 1918.
airplanes in war
France, Italy and the United States began using airplanes for military reconnaissance missions in 1910. The first aerial bombing from an airplane took place during the Turko-Italian War in 1911. World War I was the turning point for airplane technology. In the space of a few short years, great advances were made in airplane design. This paved the way for commercial aviation on a large scale when the war was over.
an airplane passenger service!
In 1913, the unthinkable became reality....a passenger service was established between San Francisco and Oakland in California. The following year, a second passenger service began operating between St. Petersburg and Tampa in Florida. In 1919, new airplane passenger services were established between London and Paris, between Florida and Havana and in Germany.
The first transatlantic flights took place in 1919:
1) Airplane: Captain Alcock and Lt. Brown, from Newfoundland to Ireland, 16 hours and 12 minutes
2) Rigid airship: British dirigible R-34, Scotland to Long Island, 108 hours
Travel by auto was truly an adventure! Automobiles had been around for only 20 years, and our roads were still not ready for them.
In the cities and some of the smaller towns, streets were paved. In the country, however, most of the roads were still dirt. Muddy in the spring, dusty and rutted in the summer....what fun!
The motor car owner who found himself stuck in the mud was subjected to many indignities. If a wagonload of smart-aleks passed by, they invariably called out, "Get a horse!" When a kind-hearted farmer hitched up his team and pulled the car out, it was quite embarrassing.
The key feature of an improved road was proper drainage. This was accomplished by raising the road, grading it and digging ditches on the side. Grading the road made it higher in the middle, and ditches provided a place for runoff water to collect. In some areas, a surface of gravel or macadam (crushed stones) was added, and sometimes oil was applied to keep the dust down.
Road conditions varied from state to state. In 1913, it was estimated that only 10 percent of Illinois roads were improved in a permanent manner, and of these, 20 percent were surfaced with macadam and 80 percent with gravel. Massachusetts, on the other hand, had improved 50 percent of their roads in 1913.
Motorists praised the delights of driving on improved roads, and auto clubs were always urging farmers and local governments to build more of them.
Concrete roads were also known as hard roads. In 1891, Ohio was the site of America's first concrete road. By 1910, there were also short stretches of concrete highway in New Jersey, Michigan and Long Island.
Construction of the privately-owned Long Island Motor Parkway began in 1907. Originally, the owners of this 48-mile concrete road hoped to use it for auto racing, auto testing and toll traffic. By the time it was finished in 1911, New York had outlawed highway racing and motorists were finding the $2 toll to be a bit steep. In 1917, the toll was lowered to $1 in an attempt to encourage drivers to use the road.
In 1913, a 24-mile stretch of concrete highway was built in Arkansas.
The idea for the cross-country Lincoln Highway was first proposed in 1912. The route was assembled from existing highways in 1913 and the first few miles were improved with gravel. In 1914, officials decided in favor of concrete. Here and there, short patches were paved in concrete to encourage local businesses to pitch in and help fund the remainder.
By 1914, there were 2,348 miles of concrete highway in the United States.
In the desert, many highways were reduced to nothing more than wooden plank roads.
"Public Roads" Magazine, 1918
Modern Road Building In Michigan
Lincoln Highway Association
About The Lincoln Highway
Long Island Motor Parkway
Lincoln Highway Museum & Archives
Highway 80 Plank Road In California
"Get a horse!"
In the 1910s, there were very few road signs or markers. Sometimes the local auto or bicycle club erected signs, but they were not standardized or consistent. In some areas, routes were indicated by concrete markers or by colored bands on telephone poles. In other areas, they were marked by nothing more than a dab of paint on a tree or fence. In addition to their Guideposts, the B.F. Goodrich Company also erected safety signs throughout the country.
B.F. Goodrich Guideposts
Between 1910 and 1917, the B.F. Goodrich Company of Ohio erected road signs known as B.F. Goodrich Guideposts. These tall, round signs (which advertised Goodrich tires, of course!) gave the mileage to nearby towns and were placed on major roads at three-mile intervals. They were accompanied by the Goodrich Route Book. By 1917, there were 10,000 of these signs throughout the country. The program was discontinued during World War I.
In the 1900s, auto clubs published the first long-distance road maps and route books for drivers participating in cross-country auto races. Soon there were many guides available: route cards given out by the local auto club, strip maps showing a single route, and running directions that outlined a route through the use of photographs, descriptive paragraphs and odometer distances between landmarks.
In the 1910s, as auto travel between cities became more common, network maps made things easier by showing all available highways in a given region. To promote the idea of a national highway system, the first nationwide network maps were also published at this time.
Although they had been improved by the 1910s, these maps and route books could still be confusing and prone to errors. In the late 1910s, strip maps and network maps came to the forefront when the growing number of highways made running directions impractical.
There wasn't a standardized highway-numbering system yet, but that didn't stop Rand McNally. In 1919, they invented their own numbering system and erected their own signs to correspond to their maps.
In 1913, the Gulf Oil Company was the first service center chain to give away free road maps. This practice spread to the other oil companies in the 1920s.
Road Maps The American Way
Oil Company Road Maps Of Pennsylvania
Michigan Road Maps
B.F. Goodrich Guidepost
Click here for more images of life on the open road!
the Good Roads movement
In 1893, the federal government formed the Office Of Road Inquiry to look into the best methods of road building. For the first decade or so, very few changes were made. Cars were still quite rare and farmers didn't want to pay higher taxes for roads they probably wouldn't use.
something needs to be done
In the 1910s, it became apparent that the road situation couldn't be postponed any longer. Our way of life was becoming dependent on motorized travel, and the highway system was in horrible shape. Dirt roads that were built for buggies and bicycles were now crumbling under the weight of trucks. The few highways in existence couldn't accomodate the two million cars that were being built each year. Even farmers, who were now using trucks, realized that paved roads would help them transport their produce to markets.
During the 1900s and 1910s, various Good Roads movements were launched in almost every state. During the 1910s, hardly a week went by that didn't include a newspaper editorial about the condition of our roads and what should be done to improve them.
The biggest obstacle to building new roads was deciding who should pay for them. In the old days, roads were funded by local towns, townships and counties. This arrangement was acceptable when most rural roads were only used by local farmers. During the 1910s, most states realized that highway travel was no longer strictly local, and therefore should be funded by the state and federal government. With this in mind, most states adopted their own highway acts at this time, which guaranteed that state-aid roads and state bond issue highways would receive a percentage of their funding from auto registration fees and fuel taxes.
On the national level, the Office Of Road Inquiry went through several name changes before becoming the Bureau Of Public Roads in 1918. A major step forward was taken in 1916 when the Federal Highway Act was launched. The goal of this act was to establish a cross-country network of quality roads that would be partially funded by the federal government. The act got off to a slow start, thanks to wartime shortages and a debate over how the funds should be used. Only a handful of federal-aid highway projects were completed by 1920.
1916 Federal Highway Project
The Federal Highway Administration
bucket and funnel
Before gas pumps were invented, there were two ways for a motorist to buy gasoline: 1) at oil company bulk depots, and 2) at shops and garages where gas was sold as a sideline. After the gas was dispensed into a five-gallon can, it was poured into the gas tank with a funnel. The level was measured with a wooden dipstick.
The first gas pumps and underground tanks were introduced in the mid 1900s. At first, the pumps came in a wide variety of sizes and styles. They were installed at the curb in front of shops and garages. When cars lined up at these curbside pumps to refuel, they blocked traffic and caused all sorts of problems. Occasionally, a car or truck would hit one of these pumps, causing an explosion or fire.
Because you couldn't see the gasoline inside the pump, unscrupulous vendors found various ways to cheat their customers. They sold watered-down gas and rigged the self-measuring devices to give false readings. Motorists became very distrustful of these blind pumps.
visible register pumps
To ease the concerns of the motoring public, a new type of pump came into use around 1910. In a visible register pump a motor pumped gas from the underground tank into a glass reservoir, and gravity pulled it down through a hose into the gas tank. A bell sounded at one-gallon intervals. Through the glass the customer could see the quality and quantity of gas for himself.
Visible register pumps were not perfect. The operator could still cheat the customer by putting a brick inside the reservoir to alter the liquid level, or he could misalign the gallon markers. In the summer the sun heated the inside of the reservoir, which caused the gas to expand and flow back into the underground tank. To get the most gas for their money, motorists refueled early in the morning or in the cool of the evening.
In 1912, the first lighted glass globes were placed on top of the pumps. Originally, they were simply for decoration and said things like FILTERED GASOLENE or VISIBLE GASOLINE. In the late 1910s, the oil companies began to put their logos on the globes.
Along with the first gas pumps came the first off-road refueling stations. In the St. Louis area, the Automobile Gasoline Company began operating a chain of 40 drive-in stations in 1905. Standard Oil opened a drive-in station in Seattle in 1907 and launched a chain of 34 identical stations in 1914. Gulf Oil opened a station in Pittsburgh in 1913.
The Gulf Oil station gave many people their first glimpse of modern filling station design. Instead of placing the gas pump at the curb, the pumps and a small shed for the attendant were set back from the street on a corner lot. The station also provided service, accessory sales, restrooms and free road maps.
In the 1910s, curbside pumping was generally the norm in the cities, where space was at a premium. Drive-in stations were more prevalent in the country and on the outskirts of town.
The First Gulf Oil Station
The Long Oil Company Of Kansas
History Of Gas Pumps
Curbside pump with decorative glass globe
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