The Saturday Evening Post History Minute: How Americans Vacationed in 1900

It was the summer of 1900, and whether or not you took a vacation depended on where you lived, what you did for a living, and how wealthy you were.

Coney Island (Library of Congress)

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  1. This is an extremely fascinating look at an important aspect of American life at the turn of the 20th. So many of the things we take for granted didn’t even exist yet, but would in the coming decades, showcased in the advertising pages of the Post.

    That was still unknown to the people in 1900, having to suffer with stifling heat and humidity. 99% of Americans had no electricity, so no simple electric fans yet that would have made all the difference. Even today, nighttime during the heat requires at least a small fan blowing (speaking for myself) to be able to get and stay asleep. The central air usually off. Air conditioning (and heating) are still the single most important inventions followed by refrigeration.

    Cooler, ‘casual clothes’ that would have helped, really didn’t come into being until after World War II at mid-century. Naturally the idle rich/wealthy could go to their resorts and luxuriate in tolerably cooler geographic areas with cool water pools (mineral or regular) to feel mighty fine indeed.

    All of the resorts here sound wonderful, even those of lower echelon. The trolley parks and how they led to modern amusement parks isn’t something I’d thought much about. They’d “always been around” except they hadn’t, at all.

    Historically, the genuine, mind-boggling practical progress made in the first half of the 20th, was more of a grand illusion in the second by comparison, with the important exceptions of medical breakthroughs and understanding the mind/body connection, treating both together. Much of what’s fussed over now is “fu fu” b.s. garbage tech, making life harder and more dangerous as evidenced every day.


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