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Bygone Era of Travel Revealed in Recently Digitized Negatives

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 15th, 2014

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.


Recently, when reviewing the images resulting from scans of negatives from our Gravely and Moore photography collection, photos were uncovered that systematically document the facilities and operations of a busy bus depot during World War II.  According to a current online exhibit by the Smithsonian, “Americans On The Move,” the 1930s and 40s were a time when bus travel was a “glamorous and modern” mode of transportation that hit its peak during the years of World War II.  The photographs we discovered date from this golden era, documenting a Greyhound bus depot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in September 1942.  This blog will present a selection of images from this grouping of negatives.

During this peak period, many additional depots were built to accommodate the growth of bus travel.  Most of these structures were built in a late Art Deco style known as “Streamline Moderne,” a style featuring glass brick walls, porthole windows, smooth wall surfaces, and horizontal grooving, among other features.  This photograph of the depot’s exterior exhibits such stylistic features well:



Entrance to Winston-Salem bus depot, September 1942.
(Click picture for enlargement.)



Upon entering, one would have discovered the “Greyhound Gateway Restaurant Soda Grill”:



Cropped detail of photograph of Soda Grill, September 1942.
(Click picture for enlargement.)



A newsstand could be found in the same lobby area; identification of the issue of Harpers Magazine on this stand enabled dating the negatives in the collection:



Cropped detail of photograph of newsstand, September 1942.  “Germany Must Perish,” shelved next to Harpers Magazine, was a well known, controversial publication of the time.
(Click picture for enlargement.)



The inviting, spacious, well lit waiting room exhibits the “Streamline Moderne” style with its glass bricks and horizontal grooving in the walls and ceiling:



Waiting room, Winston-Salem Greyhound station, September 1942.
(Click picture for enlargement.)




Ticket counter and lobby, Winston-Salem Greyhound station, September 1942.
(Click picture for enlargement.)



Winston-Salem was within the Atlantic Greyhound Lines, a company headquartered in Charleston, West Virginia, which helps to explain why Gravely and Moore Studio received the assignment to photograph the depot.  We look forward to discovering other noteworthy photographs in the Gravely and Moore collection.

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