Following World War II, the inception of the “baby boom” brought an increase in family automobile vacations. The concept of long-distance road journeys had been around since the 1920s, when families would stay at auto camps and motor courts. However, the drastic increase in families hitting the open road because of expanded and improved highway infrastructure warranted a more easily accessible and less-expensive form of overnight lodging.
Motels became the standardized form that replaced motor courts as a home away from home. Unlike hotels, instead of being situated in urban centers, motels are usually located conveniently along interstate off-ramps and highways. Another differentiating factor is the exterior access to the rooms in motels, as opposed to access from interior hallways; however, this is not always the case.
Although the term “motel” was coined in the 1920s, it did not come in to popular usage until the late 1940s. Motels are typified by an L-, T-, or U-shaped plan, which includes guest rooms and a manager's office. Motels built within the past 30-40 years may typically include a restaurant, which shares the parking lot, and a swimming pool.
Motels sought to distinguish themselves by implementing bright and sometimes quirky neon signage. However, this trend faded as more standard corporate identification became the norm.
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