Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

The National Road

The National Road

The automobile rediscovered long-distance roads forgotten since the rise of the railroads, and then reshaped them to suit their purpose.

The National Road completed over the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland, Maryland, to the Ohio River at Wheeling in 1811, was rediscovered by the National Old Trails Association in 1911 when they proposed to improve it as part of a transcontinental auto trail. By the time this postcard published in 1936, the National Highway was part of transcontinental US 40 and federal funding was in place for the massive cuts and fills needed to straighten the road on the west slope Chestnut Ridge just east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A remnant bit of abandoned National Road S-curves across the line of traffic, the upper part already reseeded to grass.

Southern Belles

Southern Belles and Bathing Beauties dress up a giant map of Florida made from grapefruits and oranges for tourists on the electric boat tour at Cypress Gardens.

Opened near Winter Haven, Florida, in 1936, Cypress Gardens became central Florida’s number one attraction in a Dixie before Disney. Young women in big dresses posed, sauntered and frolicked at Cypress Gardens creating tableaus for tourists as if they were in a foreign land catching a voyeuristic glimpse of nymph-like Southern women in their natural habitat. Cypress Gardens was reinvented as Legoland in 2011.

Horn & Hardart

Horn & Hardart

Hot food from a coin-operated slot in the wall? Cheap. AUTOMATic. Modern. And so 1902.

Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart had already achieved local notoriety for the New Orleans style chicory coffee they served at the lunchroom they opened on Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street in 1898 when they introduced the German automat idea to the United States four years later. The idea was simple; prepare the food on one side of the wall and put it in the slot where a customer with coin or token could open a glass door and retrieve the item on the other side of the wall. Horn & Hardart opened their first New York City Automat on Times Square in 1912. Like many things low-brow, Automat architecture over-reached, the Times Square store was fronted by a two-story Spanish Colonial façade and stained glass windows.

The Times Square Automat operated next to the Globe Theater as seen in this view from across 46th Street in 1956. Horn & Hardart’s Automat had a surprisingly long run. They sold off many of their locations to Burger King in the 1970s and the last Automat at 42nd Street & 3rd Avenue closed in 1991.