Yellowstone : Consuming "Natural" Landscapes
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This paper was written for the History 498 course, Consumerism in the United States. It examines the ways in which the natural landscape of Yellowstone National Park was reshaped between 1900 and World War II to meet the consumptive needs of various groups of individuals. During these years, America’s first National Park experienced a marked and dramatic shift in the demographics of its visitors. The earliest visitors were America’s elite, who were wealthy, well-accustomed to international travel, luxurious accommodations and planned itineraries. However, this group eventually gave way to an influx of visitors from America’s middle class who favored personal mobility, economical lodging and a communal spirit. I explore factors both within and outside of Yellowstone which influenced this shift, including the popularization of the automobile, the proliferation of vacation time for Americans, and the personal beliefs of the National Park Services’ first director, Stephen T. Mather.