Vintage travel posters: Captivating artwork featuring 50 fabulous places you could see by train or plane

Vintage travel posters

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) commissioned a series of travel posters to promote tourism within the United States. These posters — with their bold designs and bright colors — were really a reflection of the optimism and energy of the era.

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

Vintage US travel poster - Alaska


Atlantic City – America’s great all-year resort

Vintage US travel poster - Atlantic City


Boston – The New Haven R.R.

Vintage US travel poster - Boston


Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Vintage US travel poster - Bryce Canyon National Park - Utah


California – This summer, travel by train

Vintage US travel poster - California (2)


Cajon Pass, Santa Fe – California

Vintage US travel poster - California


Chicago – New York central lines

Vintage US travel poster - Chicago by train


Chicago, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Braniff International Airways

Vintage US travel poster - Chicago on Braniff


Chicago – The vacation city

Vintage US travel poster - Chicago


Colorado Rockies – Black Hills and Utah

Vintage US travel poster - Colorado Rockies


Far West National Parks – U.S.A. and Canada

Vintage US travel poster - Far West national parks


Fort Marion – St. Augustine, Florida

Vintage US travel poster - Fort Marion - Florida


Grand Canyon – Zion/Bryce Canyon

Vintage US travel poster - Grand Canyon - Arizona


Santa Fe – Grand Canyon

Vintage US travel poster - Grand Canyon


Hawaii, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Pan American World Airways

Vintage US travel poster - Hawaii - Pan Aim Airways


Hawaii, a vintage travel poster brought to you by United Air Lines

Vintage US travel poster - Hawaii


Visit historic Ephrata Cloisters – Pennsylvania

Vintage US travel poster - Historic Ephrata Pennsylvania


Lake Winnipesaukee – New Hampshire

Vintage US travel poster - Lake Winnipesaukee


Vintage travel poster of Canada, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard 

Vintage US travel poster - Maine NH VT MA CT RI


Miami, a vintage travel poster brought to you by Braniff International Airways

Vintage US travel poster - Miami on Braniff


The beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast

Vintage US travel poster - Mississippi Gulf Coast


Beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast

Vintage US travel poster - Mississippi


Absaroka mountains, Montana

Vintage US travel poster - Montana by train


Nantucket

Vintage US travel poster - Nantucket


The National Parks preserve wild life

Vintage US travel poster - National Parks


New England is vacationland

Vintage US travel poster - New England vacationland


New Mexico and Arizona Rockies

Vintage US travel poster - New Mexico and Arizona Rockies


New York – Fly TWA

Vintage US travel poster - New York on TWA


Visit the Pacific Northwest wonderland…

Vintage US travel poster - Pacific Northwest


Carpenter’s Hall – Philadelphia

Vintage US travel poster - Philadelpia


Rural Pennsylvania 

Vintage US travel poster - Rural Pennsylvania


Catalina, Los Angles – California

Vintage US travel poster - Santa Catalina Island


The village of Sea Cliff – New York

Vintage US travel poster - Sea Cliff


See America – Brought to you by the United States Travel Bureau 

Vintage US travel poster - See America


Snow Train – Boston and Maine

Vintage US travel poster - Snow train - Boston and Maine


Texas, brought to you by Braniff International Airways

Vintage US travel poster - Texas on Braniff International Airways


Welcome to Montana

Vintage US travel poster - Welcome to Montana


New York: West Point United States Military Academy 

Vintage US travel poster - West Point military academy


Old Faithful – Yellowstone Park

Vintage US travel poster - Yellowstone Park


This summer, visit Zion National Park – Utah

Vintage US travel poster - Zion National Park by train


Zion National Park

Vintage US travel poster - Zion National Park


These vintage mini-posters had a similar theme and feel to the posters shown above, but this set all came from Boeing Airlines in the early 60s.

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

vintage-travel-posters-chicago


Los Angeles via Western Airlines

vintage-travel-posters-los-angeles


Hawaii by Jet Clipper – Pan Am

vintage-travel-posters-hawaii


Fly Eastern to Miami

vintage-travel-posters-miami


American Airlines to San Francisco

vintage-travel-posters-san-francisco


Texas via Braniff International Airways

vintage-travel-posters-texas


Colorado via Continental Airlines

vintage-travel-posters-colorado

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email

You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See some of our books!