History Nebraska Blog

Nebraska's Changing Auto Culture, 1900-1930

As automobile ownership and travel became more widespread after 1900 (and particularly after the dedication of the Lincoln Highway in October of 1913), the rural and urban landscape began to reflect the needs of the American motorist. Poorly maintained "roads," some hardly more than trails, were improved after continued agitation by local civic boosters and the good roads movement. The Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 initiated the flow of federal dollars into the nation's growing network of roads.

As the horse gave way to the automobile, garages replaced blacksmith shops and livery stables. Service stations dotted the landscape. Auto dealerships and used car lots became well-established features of large and small-town life. Autos ceased to be toys for the rich and became a necessity for most classes of Americans, who experienced more mobility and independence than they had ever had before. Travel for business and pleasure became routine.

As automobile ownership and travel became more widespread after 1900, the rural and urban landscape began to reflect the needs of the American motorist. This article presents photos and other graphics reflecting those changes. 

Read the full article here. 

Become a History Nebraska Member Today

Learn More