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Drawing, Design for Highway Traveler

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Raymond Loewy and collaborator: General Motors and made for Greyhound Lines, Inc.. It is dated 1944–1946 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is brush and gouache on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy was born in Paris in 1893 and from a young age exhibited a unique talent for drawing and designing vehicles and locomotives. Loewy graduated from the University of Paris in 1910 with a degree in engineering. Following World War I, he relocated to New York and enjoyed a brief and successful career as a fashion illustrator for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and several department stores. [1] He soon realized that he preferred industrial design, so in 1929, Loewy established his own design firm in New York. He wanted to reinvigorate American design by modernizing its transportation and by improving its manufactured products. In 1929, the British company Gestetner commissioned Loewy to improve its mimeograph machine, and his model was so successful that it remained unchanged for thirty years. [2] Loewy’s sleek and sophisticated vision for the machine demonstrated a streamlined aesthetic that would transform industrial design in America.
In the late 1930s, Loewy continued to implement his vision of a more industrialized and modern American landscape through extensive work for transportation companies like the Pennsylvania Railroad, Greyhound Bus, and Studebaker. Loewy’s design for a new, welded electric locomotive removed thousands of rivets and resulted in a more attractive exterior with lower manufacturing costs.[3] He expanded his design scheme for Pennsylvania Railroad beyond the newly engineered train car and reimagined the company’s stations, interior cabins, and ticket offices.[4] Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has drawings for both the exterior and interior of the locomotive project.
Loewy’s collaborations with Greyhound Bus were influential through the 1940s and 1950s. Loewy has been credited with the creation of a new Greyhound bus logo that included a more aerodynamic, elongated rendering of the hound. As World War II drew to a close, Raymond Loewy Associates worked with Greyhound and General Motors to design a new double-decker bus. Greyhound was the leader in the bus transportation industry in the 1940s. The GX-1, known as the “Highway Traveler,” was billed as an engineering innovation, as it increased passenger capacity within the federal restrictions of length for intercity buses. The bus was designed with wider and larger seats as well as “more space between seats to allow further relaxation and freedom of movement by passengers,” with the aim of meeting increasing demand for buses as a form of tourist transportation.[5] Work on the bus design began in 1943, during the war, and publicity around what would become the “Highway Traveler” was released in the summer of 1944. The pilot was introduced to the public in 1947—48, but full production met with challenges. The double-decker design was ultimately succeeded in the 1950s by the “ScenicCruiser.”
According to scholar and former dealer Hampton Wayt, drawings for commercial vehicles from this period are quite rare. This presentation drawing is one of at least two known to have been created by Loewy’s office—this is likely the later of the two. It features Raymond Loewy’s signature stamped on the lower left corner and a later signature and date inscription on the lower right—Loewy commonly inaccurately dated drawings after the fact. Cooper Hewitt has four designs for buses or coaches in the collection, all given in 2017 by Paul Herzan. All four works appear to date to the 1930s, and the acquisition of this drawing would allow us to extend the conversation of Loewy’s influence on transportation into the 1940s, as well as the evolution of the commercial vehicle in the post-war era. The design’s use of lightweight extruded aluminum and the aerodynamic cut-outs are reflective of innovations developed during wartime production.
The Library of Congress and the Hagley Archive both have photographic material related to the Greyhound projects, and possibly documentation, but no original drawings have been identified at either institution. Hampton Wayt has speculated that General Motors may have more material, since most of the design of the bus was done at their offices.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Its dimensions are

28 × 46 cm (11 × 18 1/8 in.)

It is signed

Stamped signature, lower left: Raymond Loewy; signed in pen and ink, lower right: Raymond Loewy / 1935-1936.37 / 1935 / 1936 / 1937

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for Highway Traveler; Designed by Raymond Loewy (American, b. France, 1893–1986); Collaborator: General Motors; Made for Greyhound Lines, Inc.; brush and gouache on paper; 28 × 46 cm (11 × 18 1/8 in.) ; Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2017-46-1

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