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New Book Highlights Mid-Century "Motel California" Era

Oct 4, 2017

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers 

While the most of the state’s roadside inns have since checked out for good, a new coffee table book celebrates their glory days in the 1950's and 1960's. It’s called Motel California, from Bay Area historian Heather David. She joins us on Valley Edition to talk about how the motel itself has its origins in Central California, and why Fresno plays a big role in the book, including a vintage photo of the Fresno Tropicana Lodge on the cover.