Introduction

Title Treatment

After World War II, the United States experienced phenomenal economic growth. The war brought the return of prosperity after the Great Depression, and helped the US consolidate its position as the world’s richest country. More and more Americans now considered themselves part of a growing middle class. Paid vacations became a near universal benefit, allowing several Americans to make the first long-distance journey's of their lives. 

While civil aviation had been operating in the US since the 1920s, passenger air travel surged only after WWII, when the US had experienced an immense amount of government spending on defense production, and a shift from automobile production to aircraft production. By 1945, the US had alone produced more than a third of the world’s total aircraft production. Aircraft production made up the most of the U.S.'s manufacturing output during the World War II era from 1940 to 1945, contributing to the surge in GDP growth. The expansion of the airline industry in response to wartime needs also led to higher demand for labor. Increasingly more pilots, flight staff, engineers, and researchers were needed to operate the aircraft as well as develop advanced technology, leading to increased job creation. There was an excess aircraft supply post WWII, and not a high enough corresponding demand.

In this exhibit I analyse Curtis Publishing Company's Holiday magazine, to understand how the media, the state, and American corporations were responding to, and generating a demand for travel in American society in the post-war climate. First published in 1946, the magazine serves as a lens to examine the euphoria surrounding the war, the emerging conception of the American identity, and the perception of cultures beyond the American borders, in the post-war climate. 

 

Introduction