Yesterday In Travel
By Brian Rogers
Each episode, travel industry veterans Brian and Kaleena discuss the big and small moments in travel history that led us to where we are today. Some moments completely rewrote the rules—like the invention of jumbo jets. But we’ll also discuss moments that reflect ongoing trends in travel, like how Disney changed Orlando.
In our discussions, we’ll explore how these examples might inform our current state of travel, and the challenges ahead. We’ll talk about everything—domestic politics, electronic music, international relations, new inventions, natural disasters, religious pilgrimages, race, all of it. It’s been a long road.
Travel (as we know it) could soon change in a huge way—and it probably should. Our goal is to create a dialogue about the future of travel, and what better way to do that than to look first to the past?
Yesterday In TravelApr 14, 2021
Trotsky is Exiled (and murdered) in Mexico
Today we discuss the Soviet Revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s exile in Mexico, his relationship with artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and his ultimate murder by ice pick at the hands of an agent of Stalin’s secret police.
The Transcontinental Railroad is Completed
On today's episode, we discuss a physical connection that happened in travel history: the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad in the United States and, specifically, the moment that the East Coast connected with the West coast at Promontory Point, Utah. It was a monumental undertaking that proved to be a pivotal moment for the country. It forever altered where and how Americans lived, and sparked a new era of trade and leisure travel. Unfortunately, it also quickened the pace of environmental degradation and subjugation of the native peoples of North America.
For this episode, we speak to special guest Sean Fraga, PhD, a historian of the North American west and a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at USC. He's currently working on his first book about the transcontinental railroad, Asian trade, and the Puget Sound, which will be published by Yale University press.
Sputnik Orbits Earth
On today’s episode, we discuss the successful launch and orbit of Sputnik, the USSR’s unmanned satellite experiment, in October of 1957. The feat achieved a first in human-powered space flight and sparked the technological and ideological competition between the U.S. and the Soviets known as the “Space Race.” The fact that the Soviets beat the Americans into orbit had huge consequences on the psyche of the U.S. for decades to come, and the competitive nature of space exploration continues to this day. Is outer space the next commercial travel frontier?
Fidel Castro goes to Harlem
On today's episode we explore a moment of travel history from our own backyard—New York City. We get into the story of when Fidel Castro visited Harlem in September 1961. This was not only a big moment in travel history—few foreign leaders, if any, had paid a visit to Harlem before Casto—but it also tells us a lot about racial politics during the Cold War.
In this episode we jump back about 17 years into history—to 2004, when the Colombian city of Medellin unveiled a new mass transit system called the MetroCable. The network of gondolas improved accessibility to once remote hillside neighborhoods, transforming the way the city’s residents mix and helping to garner international attention for the city’s innovative strategies for urban social improvement. The gondolas also became a tourist draw in their own right.
Frederick Douglass Goes to Ireland
In this episode, we travel to the 1840s—specifically, to when Frederick Douglass decided to leave the United States for a bit and travel to Ireland and England. “Decided” is not exactly the right word. Douglass had recently published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in 1845. Although Douglass had escaped slavery, he was still in danger of being tracked down by the man who claimed to “own” him—and the release of his book doubled the threat.
As a result, Douglass traveled across the Atlantic. His trip to Ireland would prove to be an inflection point in his career, his thinking about race and class, and a key to his financial freedom.
Nixon Goes to China
In our final episode of the season, we discuss a trip of great historical consequence: the weeklong tour of China that President Richard Nixon took in 1972. It was the first time that a sitting U.S. president had ever visited mainland China and followed over 25 years without any official diplomatic contact between the two countries. The trip initiated a new chapter in the political and economic relationship between them—it shifted Cold War power dynamics, improved the American public’s perception of China and the Chinese people, and led to the coining of a new phrase in our political lexicon: the “Nixon goes to China” moment.
Tourism and the "Spanish Miracle"
In this episode, we go to Spain—to a moment called the “Spanish Miracle”. This decade of incredible economic growth in Spain came after years of stagnation and war. It was fueled—in part—by the opening up of the country and the impact of tourism. We discuss the Spanish Miracle itself, what led to it, and how tourism in Spain has had a lasting effect on Spanish culture, society, and economics.
The 1964 Tokyo Olympics
Today we discuss Japan, one of the world’s top travel destinations—but it wasn’t always that way. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries it was sealed off from outsiders, and in the 20th century, WWII and the resulting destruction led to renewed isolation. But postwar reconstruction created an economic boom and a newfound effort to integrate into the global community. Enter the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, which provided the country with its first post-war opportunity to show off its remarkable recovery on the world stage. Today we’ll delve into how this one enormous event changed travel to Japan, as well as travel within Japan itself.
The "Great Migration" from Puerto Rico to NYC
On today's episode, we discuss the “Great Migration” of Puerto Ricans to New York City in the 1950s. We get into the history of Puerto Rico, the changes in U.S. law that led to this mass movement north, the motivations behind these changes, and how this mass movement of Puerto Ricans to New York has impacted the city and the island.
Kraftwerk Releases Trans Europe Express
In 1977, the German band Kraftwerk released Trans Europ Express, an album that had a monumental affect on the course of music and conjured the beginnings of a new forward looking identity for Europe. The album embodied the idea of travel as a unifying force in a post-WWII world full of divisions—most notably, in Germany itself.
Kraftwerk’s train reference hinted at a newly forming European identity—a multi-nation community—and the album itself was a reflexion and product of this growing interconnectedness. Building off of these ideas, we discuss how travel can physically connect places, and how it can also create a psychological bond between peoples.
President Obama Goes to Cuba
In March of 2016, the Obama family went on a whirlwind 3-day tour of Havana, Cuba—the first visit to the island by a sitting U.S. president since 1928. The occasion was the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and for Obama, the trip was a careful balance of politics and pleasure. In this episode, we discuss the ins and outs of how the trip came to be after a century's worth of contentious history between the two countries, and how things have fared since.
George Harrison Goes to India
Kaleena and Brian delve into the world of the Beatles around the mid 1960s and the events surrounding the trip to India that George Harrison and his wife Patti Boyd took in 1966. We look at the travel trends that led to Harrison’s fateful trip and the subsequent travels of the entire Beatles gang to India following George’s trip, and examine the travel trend that emerged in the post-WWII, post-colonial world of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and ushered in a novel form of travel as a way to explore and discover meaning in life, as popularized by the Beat Poets and (especially) the Beatles, as well as new ideas around crowdsourcing travel knowledge.
Hurricane Iniki Hits Kauai
Hurricane Iniki made landfall on the island of Kauai as a Category 4 storm on September 11, 1992—the strongest storm ever to hit the island. In Hawaiian, Iniki means “a strong piercing wind” and it left a wake of destruction that had lasting effects on Hawaii’s people and its tourist-centered economy.
In this episode, Kaleena and Brian discuss the impact it had and the renewed questions around Kauai’s dependency on tourism and sustainability to try to understand how an event like this can affect thinking around a community’s reliance on tourism versus other more stable industries.
Congress Passes the Airline Deregulation Act
Brian and Kaleena discuss the evolution of air travel leading up to the passage of the bill, as well as the affects, positive and negative, that the changes had on all aspects of travel.
Trailer: Yesterday in Travel
Each episode, travel industry veterans Brian and Kaleena discuss the big and small moments in travel history that led us to where we are today.
We’ll talk about everything—domestic politics, electronic music, international relations, new inventions, natural disasters, religious pilgrimages, race, all of it.