Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Paul Collins: 10 oddest travel guides

For Slate, Paul Collins named the "10 [travel guidebooks] that are so transfixingly odd that they've remained readable long beyond their original itineraries."

One title on the list:
Travel Guide of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses, by Afro-American Newspapers (1942)

Like The Negro Motorist Green-Book, the Travel Guide captures an era when African-Americans had to be mindful of where they vacationed. Alongside bucolic listings for shoreline getaways, the Manhattan listings are an urban time capsule: Small's Paradise ("presenting Chock Full o' Rhythm Revue, starring Tondelayo and Lopez"), the Savoy Ballroom, $1 rooms at the Hotel Crescent, and Bowman's Most Ultra Bar and Cocktail Lounge over on 135th Street. The 1942 edition includes an exhortation to wartime travel—"Vacations for Victory. You can do your job better after recreation"—and to modern eyes is striking for what hotels emphasized in the early 1940s. There's no TV, of course, and rarely any AC. So what's the most common amenity promised in the hotel ads? "Hot and Cold Running Water."
Read about Number One on Collins' list.

--Marshal Zeringue