- Purchase/rental options available:
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, first thousands, then tens of thousands of Americans traveled to Europe annually. Their designation in official statistics as "ocean-bound tourists" reflects that general view, both at the time and currently. At issue is only whether travel to Europe became sufficiently general to justify the label "mass" or "middle-class" tourism. In this article I show that American travelers to Europe, in fact, bore the stamp of the inequality that characterized their society. In steerage, mainly naturalized American citizens, precariously employed in the United States, crossed to Europe in numbers that fluctuated widely in response to changing conditions in the labor market. They were largely invisible among other emigrants responding to the same economic pressures. In contrast, cabin class witnessed a steadily growing and well-publicized summer exodus as the "habit" of European travel became general among wealthy Americans. Transatlantic tourism remained largely out of reach for the middle class. The article draws on official statistics on passenger volumes, original passenger lists, and contemporary press accounts to investigate the characteristics of travelers in cabin and steerage. The affordability of European travel is assessed using contemporary estimates of travel costs and income distribution.