In L.A., Driving the Road to Black Empowerment

For Families Like Mine, Cars Were an Engine of Social and Economic Mobility

This essay published alongside next week’s Zócalo and Destination Crenshaw event, “Is Car Culture the Ultimate Act of Community in Crenshaw?” Click here to watch the full conversation.

In 1925 my maternal grandparents bought a new Dodge, packed up their things, and made their escape from the anti-Black restrictions, injustice, and violence of Montgomery, Alabama: bound for a new life in Los Angeles, California.

Thanks to more newly paved roads and cheap automobiles, Dr. Peter Price Cobbs and Rosa Ellen (née Mashaw) Cobbs were able to see …

The Valley’s Last Camaro | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Valley’s Last Camaro

In 1992, General Motors Shuttered Its Van Nuys Plant—But Not Before Union Workers Left Their Mark on the Final Car They Produced

Improbably, the best monument to the old General Motors assembly plant in Van Nuys, California, sits in a garage in Jamestown, North Dakota—the final car produced at the facility that …

Can Muscle Cars Really Fly? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Muscle Cars Really Fly?

Matthew Porter’s Photographs of an American Symbol Conjure Dreamlike Worlds

Muscle cars are a quintessential American symbol: fast, powerful, and entirely impractical. But perhaps it’s their impracticability that makes these gas-guzzling, aggressively loud vehicles coveted by so many. Having a …

The Postcards That Captured America’s Love for the Open Road

From Mid-Century Until Today, “Greetings From” Postcards Have Combined a ‘Fantastical View’ of the Country With Car Culture Obsession

The most prolific producer of the iconic 20th-century American travel postcard was a German-born printer, a man named Curt Teich, who immigrated to America in 1895. In 1931, Teich’s printing …

Why Americans Invented the RV

In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

Zócalo’s editors are diving into our archives and throwing it back to some of our favorite pieces. This week: Before pandemic “van life,” there …