American Tourism

American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition 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 the business models that sustained the attractions once the founders had passed from the scene. In each essay the authors also highlight the design choices that made places memorable, the cultural work that turned places into experiences, and the long-term impact (both good and bad) of these sites on their locales, regions, and the nation as a whole.


“The identification of major problems in the development of American tourist sites and the tourist industry makes American Tourism an important contribution to historical tourism studies. … The essays in American Tourism reveal that while tourism has contributed to America’s general prosperity, it has also played a significant role in perpetuating its growing inequality.”
Nalleli Guillen, Journal of Urban History

“The editors map out their approach to the subject in a historiographically sophisticated introduction that will be of use to many scholars beginning work in the field. … The essays are, the whole, provocative and some draw critical comparisons to other tourist sites as well as to the dominant theories of tourism development. The collection will be useful to general readers as well as to undergraduate and graduate students, not only of tourism, but also of urban history, American Studies, business history, urban planning, and geography.”
Ella Howard, Journal of American Culture

The Center for American Places (Columbia College Chicago Press). Distributed by University of Chicago Press.

325 pages / 6 x 9 / 70 halftones

Hardcover / 9781935195238 / 2012

This title is out of print, but used copies are widely available. Order from

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