America on the Move

Exhibit scene depicting the first cross-country car trip

This major exhibition examines how transportation—from 1876 to 1999—has shaped our American identity from a mostly rural nation into a major economic power, forged a sense of national unity, delivered consumer abundance, and encouraged a degree of social and economic mobility unlike that of any other nation of the world.

Arranged chronologically and through 19 sections, historical settings include the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876, the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs outside of cities, and the transformation of a U.S. port with the introduction of containerized shipping in the 1960s.

Among the 300 objects on view, highlights include:

  • “Jupiter,” a steam-powered locomotive built in 1876 for the Santa Cruz Railroad
  • 260-ton “1401” locomotive, which pulled President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train on part of its journey to Washington, D.C.
  • 1903 Winton, the first car driven across the U.S.—by H. Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker, with Bud the Dog as a passenger
  • 1926 Ford Model T Roadster
  • 1942 Harley-Davidson motorcycle
  • Chicago Transit Authority “L” mass transit car built in 1959
  • A piece of U.S. Route 66, the “People's Highway,” that connected Chicago to Los Angeles

Visitor Guide

A self-guided highlights tour is available online in the following languages:

English | Español | Français | Deutsch | Русский | العربية | 简体中文 | 日本語 | 한국어

Exhibition Website

Journey though the history of the United States to learn how transportation changed American lives and landscapes. See behind-the-scenes stories about collecting and preparing objects for the exhibition. Discover hundreds of objects in our transportation collections. Visit the website.