The Transportation Zone certainly solidified the grow concept that the United States was now an automotive culture. Although the zone contained major exhibits by the railroad industry (actually its last major grasp on the American imagination) and the burgeoning aviation industry, the pavilions related to the automobile dominated not only the zone, but, the imagination of the Fair’s visitors.
While still in the Great Depression, remarkably the automotive culture continued to flourish. Car registrations declined only ten percent after 1929 and then rebounded rather quickly. Motor vehicle gas consumption rose two per cent in 1938 to 19,610,000,000 gallons. However, road maintenance and improvements lagged. In 1939 more than half of all American highways were found to be “unimproved.”
With the automotive culture firmly in the American psyche, automobile manufacturers employed more than 5% of the nation’s workforce and accounted for 7.5% of the nation’s wages.