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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about motels. It was 75 years ago this week that the world’s first motel was built in California to provide a pleasant place for automobile travelers to spend the night.


CURWOOD: Early in the automobile age, weary travelers might pitch a tent or crawl into the back seat with a blanket if nightfall found them far from home. Seventy-five years ago that all changed when enterprising architect Arthur Heineman built the world's first motel. Blending the words "motor" and "hotel," Mr. Heineman coined the term to describe his haven in San Luis Obispo, California. Just two dollars a night at The Milestone Mo-Tel bought a traveler a night in a private room with a bath, telephone, central heating, and, of course, a parking spot for the trusty automobile. Motels began springing up all along the American roadside, joining gas stations and diners to serve the new tin can tourists. The motel industry peaked in the early 60's before big chains came to dominate the landscape. Eventually, the new interstate system concentrated travel systems at highway exits, relegating neon-lighted Mom & Pop culture icons like the Ho Hum, the Sandman, and even the infamous Bates Motel to Americana.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Your room is ready. Enjoy the shower. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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