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The Sixties: A Time in Transition

American Life

During the 1960s, families vacationed more often for several reasons. Improved highways resulted in more car travel, and travelers found airlines more accessible. The rising incomes of the growing middle class made these options more attainable. Extravagant retreats were no longer just for the very wealthy. The road-side hotel and motel industry developed to meet this need as well as the luxury “all-inclusive” golf resorts.



Resort and hotel amenities reflected the priorities and conditions of the modern middle class family. They offered proximity to nature with amentities that included swimming pools, golf courses, televisions in every room, child care, restaurants, and cocktail lounges.

These brochures also reflect the 1960s graphic and printing aesthetics. But they speak more to the transitional phase in design between the styles of the 1940s and 50s towards the aesthetic of the Bauhaus and the “International Typographic Style” or “Swiss International Style” movements in design. With the rise in commercial advertising both in print and on television, the graphic arts became a more refined field respected both as an art and as a business medium. The focus of print design placed an emphasis on clear, clean, and objective design. There was also a shift during this time from illustration and drawings to an intentional use of photography. Typeface plays the most prominent role supporting both the artistic weight of the design as well as cleanly and objectively conveying information through text.

These materials are part of the the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) records. APTA was created in 1974 with the merging of two major American transit-related organizations, the American Transit Association (ATA) and the Institute for Rapid Transit (IRT). Both organizations trace their histories back decades before this date. The ATA, founded in 1932, specialized in issues dealing with motor busses and trolleys coaches and other motorized transit vehicles. The IRT, organized in 1961, specialized in electric railways and other rapid-transit sources. In January 2000, ATA officials renamed their organization the American Public Transportation Association. Today APTA is a leading participant in research and legislation regarding the American transportation industry and related issues.



The Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway was named in honor of Henry Shirley, the head of the Virginia Department of Highways (now Virginia Department of Transportation or VDOT) from 1922 to 1941. Built as a four-lane freeway, officials first designated the road State Route 350 from its southern intersection with U.S. Route 1 north of the Occoquan River near Woodbridge, Virginia, and its northern intersection with U.S. Route 1 near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.






The Virginia Department of Highways completed the 17.3-mile long Shirley Highway in 1968. The Arlington, Virginia, section opened in 1944, the same year the Pentagon was completed. It was designated Interstate 95 following upgrades from 1965 to 1975 to Interstate standards. In 1977 the portion of the road inside the Beltway was designated I-395.



These photographs come from the James McDonnell Transportation Collection. During his 33 year career as a transportation planner for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, McDonnell took these photographs as part of an extensive study of the Shirley Highway Corridor in Northern Virginia. This study resulted in the widening of the highway and pioneered the use of reversible high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.

Between 1966 and 1967, there were five unmanned Lunar Orbiter missions. The goal of the missions was to scout possible lunar landing sites for the Apollo missions. The Lunar Orbiter 2 launched on November 6, 1966, and captured these images. This picture of the surface of the moon shows the Maria present on the near-side of the moon that faces Earth. Maria comes from the Latin word for seas; the singular of which is Mare.

However, Maria are not remnants of ancient seas but rather the dark material filling the Maria is solidified lava from earlier periods when the moon was covered with active volcanoes. The Maria are mostly composed of dark basalts, which form as a result of the rapid cooling of molten rock from lava flows. In addition to the wide swaths of surface covered in craters from the ancient volcanoes, the moon’s surface also consists of many craters created by meteors.

The Orbiter missions were vitally important because they provided data for NASA so that scientists could safely send astronauts to the moon to gather samples. The Apollo missions resulted in some of the most important discoveries about the moon’s properties and created the foundation for our current understanding of the moon and how we approach space exploration.