Wayback Machine 1936: The Invention of the Motel

Migrated Image

Modern Mechanix covers the invention of the motel, "solving a problem that motorists have wrestled with ever since the first adventurous driver sallied forth in a horseless buggy, a pair of goggles, a long linen coat and a cloud of dust to conquer strange trails. This driver had only two choices. If he could afford it and could find one, he headed for a hotel and hoped for the best. If he couldn't, he camped out, cooked his meals in the open and slept in a tent or possibly in his car."

But more interestingly, they nail a major reason that motels caught on; they are on the edges of cities, where there is more room. "The moderate rates are due to the location of the courts. Rarely are they found in downtown areas of high-priced real estate. You'll find them on the edge of the city or on the fringe of a quiet residential neighborhood. And while the construction is substantial, it is inexpensive as compared with the cost of a large hotel."


Of course, other businesses start up to cater to those staying in the motel:

"There's nothing to do but drive your car into the adjoining garage, get your bags out of the trunk and "set up housekeeping." Near by there's a service station to condition your car for tomorrow's trip, and within walking distance you'll find a good restaurant and a grocery store to obtain provisions if you're doing your own cooking. After dinner you'll find outside your overnight home a comfortable bench where you can sit and admire your own individual flower garden and your own individual palm tree."

So in 1936 with the introduction of the motel, we are all ready seeing the car change the way our cities work and the way people travel.

"...a different class of motorists is attracted to the courts, also called "motels," "autels" and "autotels," than patronizes auto camps and tourist parks. You'll find your neighbors are people of means, driving good cars—people you ordinarily would expect to find at the best hotels. They are attracted to the courts because of the conveniences offered.

Hotels which years ago did not accord a very hearty welcome to travel-stained motorists have seen the day when most of their guests arrive in their own cars, at least in many cities, and they are taking a lively interest in the motor court idea. So it will not be surprising to find motor courts conducted under hotel management. Some of the best today are run by oil companies or individual service stations."::Modern Mechanix