Race, Mobility, and Fantasy: Afromobiling in Tropical Florida

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Knight Lozano, Henry (2017)

This article explores a popular tourist vehicle in early twentieth century Florida: the Afromobile. Beginning in the 1890s, Afromobiling referred to the white tourist experience of travelling in a wheelchair propelled by an African American hotel employee in South Florida. Most prominent in Palm Beach, these wheelchairs developed into a heavily promoted tourist activity in the region. Using promotional imagery and literary sources this paper traces the development of Afromobiling as a tourist vehicle that played upon South Florida’s tropical environs. It argues that the vehicle’s popularity related to its enactment of benign racial hierarchy and controlled black mobility. Moreover, the Afromobile infused U.S. fantasies about South Florida as a tropical and ‘oriental’ paradise for white leisure.
  • References (3)

    122 Palm Beach County History online: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/employment-opportunities Kleinberg, “Afromobile”, Palm Beach Post.

    123 New York Daily Tribune, Nov. 11, 1906, 2.

    124 Day, “City on Wheels”, 64.

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