Posts tagged “travel

Beale Street Bucks

Posted on June 28, 2012

Following recent violent incidents on famed Beale Street, city leaders in Memphis, Tennessee, are contemplating a proposal by business leaders to impose a $10 fee on weekend nights, which would buy a $9 voucher for purchases in the tourist venue’s many clubs, bars, and restaurants. It is just one of several remedies under review. As the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported earlier this month, Memphis leaders are being very careful to characterize this proposed policy as anything but a “cover charge,” which carries the unwanted connotation of privatizing public space. It is indeed a touchy subject. In 1982, as College of Charleston history professor Robert D. Russell describes in his essay in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition (Chicago, 2012), when Beale Street was considered…

American Tourism Now Available!

Posted on June 15, 2012

American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition is now available to order from your favorite bookseller. American Tourism reveals the remarkable stories behind the places Americans love to visit. From Independence Hall to Las Vegas, and from Silver Springs to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the collection draws back the curtain on many of America’s most successful tourist traps to reveal the carefully hidden backstory of transforming places into destinations. Readers will discover that a powerful creative process, rather than chance, has separated the enduring attractions from the many failures that litter the highways and byways of tourism history. American Tourism‘s thirty-five lively, illustrated essays tap the expertise of the country’s leading academic and public historians, writers, and tourism professionals. The contributors illuminate the visionaries who created iconic destinations and…

Imagining the Future in Central Florida

Posted on June 14, 2012

These two images, drawn from the Department of Commerce Collection at the State Archives of Florida, give a sense of the land as Roy Disney and his entourage of company officials found it during their mid-1960s exploratory trips into the area to the southwest of Orlando. The Walt Disney Company would quietly assemble tens of thousands of acres in what would forever transform the economy of Florida.

Hotel Veranda as Celebrity Stage

Posted on June 13, 2012

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the sweeping verandas of America’s foremost resort hotels served as veritable stages across which the nation’s well-to-do promenaded. As historian Jon Sterngass observed in his book First Resorts, such spaces offered perfect places “to see and be seen,” even as resorts like Saratoga attracted a broader and broader swath of American society. In Saratoga, the “celebrities” of the day literally strode high above passersby on the Broadway sidewalk below as if enacting a tableau. The United States Hotel, along with Congress Hall and the Grand Union Hotel, was one of the great elite resort hotels of the Western Hemisphere in the 19th century. Originally built in 1824, the United States Hotel (like many wooden hotels) went up…

A Not-So-Small World

Posted on June 11, 2012

The title of the Sherman Brothers’ tune, made famous by Disney’s use in its iconic boat ride that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair before being rebuilt at Disneyland, aptly describes the small size of the Anaheim, California, theme park carved out of orange groves less than ten years earlier. As suburban sprawl engulfed Disneyland, its 160 acres began to seem a big too small. The reason Walt Disney wanted a clean slate when he contemplated a second theme park and the reason he chose central Florida are apparent – albeit less so than in the past – in these satellite views. Even with sustained development over the past four decades, the 47-square-mile Walt Disney World Resort retains substantial forestland that creates…

Wild West Gunslingers – in Florida

Posted on June 7, 2012

Tombstone, Arizona, the subject of Kevin Britz’s essay in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, was hardly the only place that staged Wild West gunfights for tourist audiences. In addition to other “real” western “ghost towns,” specially contrived ghost-town tourist traps opened all across the United States in the 1960s at the height of the TV-western craze. At least three of the most notable examples were about as far from the West as you could get in the U.S.: Florida! Osprey (between Sarasota and Venice), Panama City Beach, and Silver Springs enthralled tourists with daily gun battles on sandy streets against a backdrop of mock storefronts and saloons. The following images, drawn from the State Archives of Florida, depict these long lost attractions. As…