Travel by Train: The American Railroad Poster, 1870-1950
Indiana University Press

Travel by Train: The American Railroad Poster, 1870-1950

  • Publish Date: 2002-10-16
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Michael E. Zega;John E. Gruber

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Between 1870 and 1950, Americas railroads produced a body of poster work significant both for the artists involved and for the range of images created. The railroads used this visual medium from their founding, first in the form of broadsides, dominated by text and intended to convey practical information, and then, during the 1890s, as vivid lithographed display posters. For the next 50 years, American railroads commissioned posters designed to spur the popular imagination and thereby encourage travel. Images of compelling intensity included Maurice Logans icons of the 1920s overland limiteds passing in the West; Adolph Treidlers wonder cities; Santa Fes Native Americans; and Leslie Ragans and Sascha Maurers machine-age steamliners.

Although a great deal has been written about European railway and travel posters, their American counterparts remained in the shadows. Travel by Train focuses on the artists, railroad men, and advertising agencies that created and produced the work. It presents the posters in the context of the historical trends and competitive strategies that shaped the development of the railroad industry. The book also follows the development of the advertising business and graphic design in the U.S. and Europe. It features approximately 160 poster images (many in color), personal photographs, and sketches, many of them never before published.

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