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Airlines, Interstates, and the Creation of “Flyover Country” in the United States

Anthony Harkins

Keywords: AIRLINES; INTERSTATES; MAPS; NONSTOP; REGIONALISM; TRAVEL; UNITED STATES

Abstract

This article considers the impact of cross-country air and interstate highway travel on changing conceptions of the land and regions of the United States. Focusing on air passenger and highway maps, promotional materials, and passenger and driver accounts from between the 1920s and the 1970s, it explores how airline and highway-based portraits transformed from highly detailed, if at times comical, representations of the nation's land and people to increasingly simplified and schematized visions of mere lines across space. These changes encouraged a steady erasure of formerly conceived regions and a growing imagining of the great center of the United States as “flyover country,” a place that needed to be quickly traversed to get to somewhere that actually matters.

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