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Contemporary urban theorists have explored how cities are profoundly defined by the nature of their circulation, whether of cars, goods, or people. If we accept this, then we have to look for sites that coordinate, stage, or enable that circulation. Hotels and motels are a key articulating mechanism for such flows, a central element of modern practices such as driving, rationalized work routines, architectural design, and new building technologies. This entry looks at their history and role in urban life.

Historical Evolution

At their essence, hotels emerged to replace older forms of hospitality shown to travelers (from the inns of medieval England to the caravanserai of traditional Arab cultures), with a systematized, modern equivalent. As historians such as Cynthia Cocks and Andrew Sandoval-Strausz have described, the ...

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