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Seeing New York

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Julian Gonzalez1 Comment

Looking at the New York City WPA Guide, it is amazing to see how such a widely-sourced project came together in a cohesive, informative, and useful book. While it is over 600 pages in length, it is small enough to tuck under one’s arm and carry on the streets and consult as necessary. It presents to the tourist condensed histories …

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California Road Trip

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Graydon Feinstein1 Comment

It was interesting to read in Andrew Gross’s “The American Guide Series” how local sites and culture were written about, but then they became tourist attractions and were commodified. The tourist attractions began to sell knick-knacks that were included miniature models of the site or postcards that the tourist could take away with them. The local culture transformed into a …

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A Local and National Tension

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by RichardLeave a Comment

A few things stuck out to me in the Gross reading. First, he talks about the guides as a “cultural-political innovation.” This is a pretty interesting and descriptive term that is representative of the political atmosphere the guides came out of. Because of the unprosperous nature of the time, politicians began looking to all aspects of life to produce economic …

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Selling Racism

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by EllisLeave a Comment

Assimilated populations, Andrew S. Gross argues in his article “The American Guide Series: Patriotism as Brand-Name Identification”, don’t make for interesting tourism. He discusses the contradictions in the guide books on Arizona and California, both attempting to sell regional difference and cater to a white middle-class audience. As a result, a tension emerges between wanting to sell cultural difference to …

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Local Eats

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Karishma Sonde2 Comments

While reading Gross’s piece, it reminded me of the piece that dictated how traveling was an economic construct. When Gross mentions how the guides “transform[ed] local culture into tourist culture, tourist attraction into a symbol of national loyalty” to “reproduce patriotism as a form of brandname identification,” he describes a tourist economy based on monetary incentive instead of a so-called …

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Regions As Commodities

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Greta2 Comments

“American Guide Series: Patriotism as Brand-Name Identification” by Andrew S Gross dissects the American Guides as a form of advertising that ruins regional culture by presenting it in a particular format. Gross asserts that the guide series is “propaganda” because it “transforms local culture into a tourist attraction, and the tourist attraction into a symbol of national loyalty” (2). He …

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Guide to Identity Consumption

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Kira Williams1 Comment

Andrew Gross’s “The American Guide Series: Patriotism as Brand-Name Identification” details the rise of consumerism and standardization and the paradoxical use of regional particularities in this process. He writes of the role travel guides played in fashioning patriotism into a brand. The travel guides were put together by artists and writers hired by the government under the Roosevelt administration’s Federal …

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Community as Consumption

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Mark Joy2 Comments

What is most striking about the Guides, if only because it has been consistently overlooked is the way they appropriate commercial forms of representation for government purposes. The American Guide Series is propaganda, but not in the banal sense of representing history from a pro-government perspective. Rather it transforms local culture into a tourist attraction, and the tourist attraction into …

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Exploring Home

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Nancee2 Comments

I decided to search for a WPA guide book on Long Island and was lucky enough to find one that featured my hometown, Valley Stream. Upon this discovery, I hastily signed up for a 1-day free trial to a research database in order to read what they had to say about my lovely little town. Although it wasn’t extensive, I …

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NJ vs Dade

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by Thomas Schermerhorn1 Comment

  I looked at the guide books for New Jersey and for Miami and Dade County (in Florida). Both books were written in the 1930s, and adhere to a similar structure. The Miami book focuses on a much smaller section, so naturally it is shorter and more detailed in personal history. Several things struck me about these two books. First …

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A New World In Writing

In The Travel Habit Fall 2014, WPA guides by John Carpentier1 Comment

Tourism is an industry that I’ve always wanted to know more about, at least from an insider’s perspective. At face value, tourism is a relatively simple industry, and from a traveler’s perspective, it doesn’t go much deeper than that. However, I imagine it to be much more intricate on the other side—the side that promotes tourism and makes it attractive …