20. The Catskills attracted thousands of visitors in the summer months
In 1921 resorts dotted the Catskills and Adirondacks of New York. They consisted of luxury hotels, bungalow camps, and catered boarding houses offering entertainment. Many discriminated against Jews, including openly refusing to admit Jews in their advertisements. The discrimination led to Jewish owned resorts and hotels, many of which offered religious services as well as kosher foods, and attracted popular entertainers from the New York scene. The number of such establishments grew from the early years of the 20th century, with so many operated by descendants of Russian and other East European Jews the region became known as the Borscht Belt.
The bungalow camps offered entertainment in the form of games, community bingo, and other such pursuits, while the larger hotels and resorts provided stage shows a la vaudeville. The Borscht Belt became a cradle of early American standup comedy. Among its veterans were George Burns, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and many others. In 1921 tourists arrived at their destinations by automobile or trains from New York and other points, and the Catskills welcomed visitors throughout the summer months. Few remained open during the winter. Following the holidays most remained closed until the spring thaw brought with it another season in the mountains.
21. A gravel road allowed tourists to drive to the top of Pikes Peak
The first ascent by automobile up Colorado’s Pikes Peak took place in 1913. The driver, William Wayne Brown, used an old carriage road to make the climb, which took 5 hours and 28 minutes to complete. Two years later a wealthy American miner and entrepreneur named Spencer Penrose constructed the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit. Largely paved with gravel, it allowed intrepid motorists to drive to the summit for a fee. Motoring up Pikes Peak became a popular challenge to tourists, despite the difficulties encountered. A round trip up and down the mountain took several hours. The drive provided challenges to the cars and drivers. Multiple stops along the way were required to allow overheating engines and brakes to cool.
By 1921 the views afforded from the mountain’s summit and the bragging rights obtained by having driven to the top proved irresistible to thousands of motorists. Many found the descent more challenging than the climb. The limits of 1921 automobile technology taxed some cars severely. No gasoline or services were available along the nearly 20-mile route. Drivers had to rely on their own resourcefulness to successfully complete the trip. Ascending the mountain, as well as other summits across the United States, became a popular tourist activity, and remains one today. Penrose’s highway is still the motorist’s route up Pikes Peak in the 21st century, though maintained and operated by the City of Colorado Springs.
22. Miami Beach became a major tourist attraction in 1921
Miami Beach incorporated as a city in 1915, already a destination for visitors from the North during the winter months. Several enterprising citizens of the region envisioned the city as a tourist resort in the early 20th century. James Allison and Carl Fisher, magnates who made a fortune in the automobile industry through the manufacture of sealed-beam headlights, envisioned a world class aquarium in the city. First though, they addressed the scarcity of hotel rooms in the region through construction of the Flamingo Hotel, expressly designed to cater to the rich. When construction costs exceeded the budget in the first decade of the 19th century, Allison withdrew from the project and turned his attention to his aquarium.
Allison drew advisors from diverse sources, including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, and the United States Commissioner of Fisheries. His aquarium catered to both tourists and marine wildlife professionals. The aquarium opened on New Year’s Day, 1921; the Flamingo Hotel opened to celebrate New Year’s Eve the night before. Both were immediate successes. Miami Beach quickly developed the reputation of being a playground for the wealthy, drawing residents for the winter months which included the famous and the infamous. In April, 1921, state and federal agents raided the aquarium and found over 2,400 bottles of illicit liquor, delivered by boats which routinely arrived to deliver tropical fish and other specimens. Like most tourist meccas in 1921, the availability of imported booze added to the appeal of the destination.