Have a look at some of the iconic WPA-commissioned vintage travel posters we’ve collected here, as well as other posters from the era that were inspired by the colorful WPA aesthetic! (Many of them served as advertisements for airlines.) And if you love the retro style, inexpensive travel poster reproductions and similar designs are available for your decor today — you can check some of them out here.
Artistic vintage travel posters: Lithographs from across the USA
Adapted from an article by Wendi Maloney, US Library of Congress (2017)
Faraway states, natural wonders and beautiful beaches — these are the settings that often come to mind as we start to plan vacations. They also form the backdrop of hundreds of travel posters in the Library of Congress’ collections.
Lithographed vintage travel posters like those shown here are now sometimes sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars, but they began as ads for a burgeoning industry.
Following advances in color lithography, railways began producing art-oriented posters in the late 1800s to sell seats. Steamship lines, resorts, hotels, and later airlines adopted the medium as well, some employing well-known graphic artists to tempt travelers with scenes of glamour, beauty, adventure and leisure.
Frank Hazell (1883-1958) was a landscape artist who also worked in advertising in New York City. He painted travel posters and brochures and taught advertising art at the Grand Central School of Art.
His commissions included a 1920s painting of the United States Military Academy at West Point, as seen from the window of a New York Central Lines car traveling alongside the Hudson River in the autumn [shown below]. Hazell also did poster art for steamship companies and other institutions.
Katherine Milhous (1894-1977), an artist, illustrator and writer, supervised the Philadelphia Federal Art Project, a branch of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), from 1935 to 1940. Milhous’ duties included creating posters promoting Pennsylvania, into which she incorporated familiar Pennsylvania Dutch designs.
Alaska – Taku Glacier
Atlantic City – America’s great all-year resort
Boston – The New Haven R.R.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
California – This summer, travel by train
Cajon Pass, Santa Fe – California
Chicago – New York central lines
Chicago, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Braniff International Airways
Chicago – The vacation city
Colorado Rockies – Black Hills and Utah
Far West National Parks – U.S.A. and Canada
Fort Marion – St. Augustine, Florida
Grand Canyon – Zion/Bryce Canyon
Santa Fe – Grand Canyon
Hawaii, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Pan American World Airways
Hawaii, a vintage travel poster brought to you by United Air Lines
Visit historic Ephrata Cloisters – Pennsylvania
Lake Winnipesaukee – New Hampshire
Vintage travel poster of Canada, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard
Miami, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Braniff International Airways
The beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast
Beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast
Absaroka mountains, Montana
The National Parks preserve wild life
New England is vacationland
New Mexico and Arizona Rockies
New York – Fly TWA
Visit the Pacific Northwest wonderland…
Carpenter’s Hall – Philadelphia
Catalina, Los Angles – California
The village of Sea Cliff – New York
See America – Brought to you by the United States Travel Bureau
Snow Train – Boston and Maine
Texas, brought to you by Braniff International Airways
Welcome to Montana
New York: West Point United States Military Academy
Old Faithful – Yellowstone Park
This summer, visit Zion National Park – Utah
Zion National Park
Fly to all the US and the world — by Boeing jet (1961)
You can fly Boeing jetliners to 135 cities in 70 countries, over the routes of these famous airlines. All continents, all sections of the globe are included. Today’s swift Boeing jetliner services make it possible to visit even cities on the far side of the world during the span of a normal vacation!
Boeing jets are the most proved, most popular jetliners in the world. They are preferred by more airlines and more passengers than any other jet. They also hold more speed records (over 240!) . Next trip, enjoy the speed and comfort of travel by Boeing 707 or 720!
Chicago on United Air Lines
Los Angeles via Western Airlines
Hawaii by Jet Clipper – Pan Am
Fly Eastern to Miami
American Airlines to San Francisco
Texas via Braniff International Airways
Colorado via Continental Airlines