Westways Celebrates 100th Publishing Anniversary

Travel, Automotive
(LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30, 2009) -- Westways magazine celebrates its 100th birthday in February as Southern California's longest continuously published magazines.
 
Today, it has the 10th largest circulation of all magazines in the nation. Published by the Automobile Club of Southern California for its members, Westways serves 8 million readers as the region's premier lifestyle magazine and is a significant voice in local and regional affairs.
 
The January/February centennial issue highlights Westways record of documenting and promoting distinctive aspects of Southern California life including scenic landscapes, special events, and many of the region's talents in the visual arts and literature. The magazine also profiles California writer Carey McWilliams and Western artist Maynard Dixon, both prominently featured in the magazine in the 1930s.
 
"There are not many magazines or institutions that can claim the 100-year crown," said Westways publisher Tamara Hill. "Westways reflects the best of the Southern California cultural experience so much so that past issues are an important source of regional history for scholars and journalists."
 
Travel Editor Elizabeth Harryman, automotive expert Peter Bohr, and Auto Club Archivist Morgan Yates continue the Westways tradition of lifestyle reporting and columns showcasing regional culture. Each issue also contains foreign travel and local restaurant reviews.
 
Throughout its centennial, Westways will publish stories about significant writers, editors, artists and photographers who contributed to its pages, according to Editor in Chief John Lehrer. The WESTWAYS cover-art program, 1928-1961, commissioned paintings from most of the major artists working in Southern California over that period, including Alson Clark, Dixon, John Frost, Donna Schuster and William Wendt as well as Dixon from the plein-air period. Noteworthy watercolorists such as Rex Brandt and Phil Dike also contributed. In the last decades of the cover-art program the magazine capitalized on the eclectic Los Angeles art scene by featuring covers from diverse and notable artists William Pajaud, Paul Hogarth and Merle Shore. For the 100th anniversary cover, Dennis Brown completed the commemorative illustration. Over the decades, writers M.F.K. Fisher, Anais Nin, Lawrence Clark Powell, William Saroyan and Jack Smith bylined in Westways. In the past 20 years Ray Bradbury, Carolyn See, Susan Straight and Norman Corwin also lent their voices.
 
Westways originally published under the name Touring Topics starting in 1909 at 10 cents per issue with a yearly subscription rate of $1. The earliest issues focused on touring destinations, advances in automotive technology, racing coverage and efforts to bring modern road building to Southern California. Travel coverage expanded to descriptions of road conditions, lodging reviews and innovations like the motel. The Westways name was placed on the mast in 1934, with Gyo Fujikawa's untitled painting, following a reader contest that drew 10,000 entries.
 
Throughout its history, the magazine has been honored for its stories picking up five industry "Maggie" awards, 23 "Maggie" certificates, and six Lowell Thomas Awards for travel writing.
 
WESTWAYS PUBLISHING MILESTONES
 
1909: In February, the Automobile Club of Southern California introduces a monthly magazine called Touring Topics; the predecessor name to Westways. The first issue covers the Los Angeles Automobile Show in great detail.

1920s: A January Touring Topics pays tribute to Los Angeles’ fledgling automobile industry. During the 1920s, notable contributing photographers for the magazine include Will Connell and Fred Archer. In December 1926, Phil Townsend Hanna is named Editor of Touring Topics. His noted literary friends (writer Lawrence Clark Powell and journalist Paul Jordan Smith among them) later became Westways contributors.

The WESTWAYS cover-art program, beginning in 1928, commissioned paintings from most of the major artists working in Southern California, including Alson Clark, Dixon, John Frost, Donna Schuster and William Wendt as well as Dixon from the plein-air period. Noteworthy watercolorists such as Rex Brandt and Phil Dike also contributed.

1930s: Auto Club adds Timely Motor Topics to supplement Touring Topics. Westways debuts as the new name for Touring Topics through a reader contest. An April Westways reveals the secrets of a Sierra fisherman in an article by W.C. Parcher. Barbara Lamont describes the perfect California beach cottage in “House for Pacific Sands.”

In 1930, the Auto Club mounts an expedition to chart the proposed International Pacific Highway along the western coasts of Mexico and Central America.

1940s: The January 1941 articles in Westways include a photo-essay depicting fanciful desert formations and a trucker’s reminiscence of the perils of driving the Old Ridge Route from Castaic to the Grapevine.

The Auto Club inaugurates a five-point Drive for Victory program to conserve gasoline and rubber for the war effort. The program includes a voluntary pledge to drive slower than 40 miles per hour.

1950s: In the May 1955 issue of his Westways column, “Of Books and Writers,” Lawrence Clark Powell presents the Westerners Chicago Corral list of the 10 Most Outstanding Books on the West.

Westways continues its role of providing motorist information with a feature titled “How to Drive the Freeways.”

1960s: In 1967, a photo-essay depicting the Sonoma Coast, a travel article on Spain and a story about hiking the Popo Agie Wilderness in Wyoming are highlighted in the July issue.

In the last decades of the cover-art program, the magazine capitalized on the eclectic Los Angeles art scene by featuring covers from diverse and notable artists William Pajaud, Paul Hogarth and Merle Shore. 

1970s: In 1972, Frances Ring, former personal assistant to F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, becomes associate editor of Westways and broadens the scope of the magazine to reflect Southern California’s multicultural population.

In the November 1973 Westways, The Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist Jack Smith describes a family winery in the heart of Los Angeles and radio producer Norman Corwin muses about Cervantes and the Man of La Mancha.

Westways becomes a subscription-based publication.

1980s: In February 1989, Westways celebrates its 80th anniversary with stories about dog sledding on Mammoth Mountain, visiting monasteries in Yugoslavia and cruising to Rio de Janeiro.

During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the U.S. wins 83 gold medals and the traffic flow is the lightest and smoothest in recent history, thwarting dire predictions. The Auto Club is instrumental in organizing pre-Olympic transportation seminars that help drivers identify potential problems and avoid gridlock.

Westways cover art now favors photography, rather than illustrations.
1990s: In 1993, Avenues becomes the official Auto Club publication. Westways continues as a subscription-based publication. Both magazines are redesigned.

Avenues is consolidated into Westways and Westways is re-launched as the official Auto Club publication in January 1999. The bimonthly magazine becomes one of the 20 largest-circulation magazines in the nation as it celebrates its 90th anniversary. The magazine continues its tradition of outstanding reporting with new regional feature columnists.

Throughout its history, the magazine has been honored for its writing and editing including several “Maggies” and Lowell Thomas Awards for travel writing. The new Westways will continue this tradition of excellence while offering a fresh new approach to Southern California living.

The 1990s saw the Auto Club step even further into the computer age with members being able to access benefits, services and Westways magazine via the Internet.

2000: In the first decade of the new century, Westways continues to highlight interesting local, national, and international travel destinations; the latest automotive information (emphasizing green cars and alternative fuels); and topics of regional interest, including current events in Southern California, popular area activities (Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, NASCAR, horse racing, hiking, cooking classes, mountain biking, bird watching, and stargazing) and features on personalities, such as drag racing legend John Force. Distinguished writers such as Norman Corwin, Carolyn See, and Susan Straight appear in the magazine.

In recent years, the magazine publishes a short story by novelist Robert Masello ("Life of the Party, Sept./Oct. 2005), and has run thought-provoking articles by writers such as NEA Literary Fellow Daniel Asa Rose ("Awakening Dragon," Jan./Feb. 2008) and author Eric P. Lucas ("Dust in the Wind," Oct. 2007).

Westways' Travel Smart columnists Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman win Gold and Bronze awards in the Society of American Travel Writers, Western Chapter Writing Awards. Throughout its history, the magazine is honored for its stories, picking up five industry “Maggie” awards, 23 “Maggie” certificates, and numerous Lowell Thomas Awards for travel writing.

2007: Westways features a green issue with special green coverage in travel, automotive, and lifestyle sections, and the magazine increased its frequency from a bimonthly to an eight-issues-per-year publication.
 
2009: Westways magazine celebrates its 100th birthday in February as Southern California’s longest continuously published magazines. Today, it has the 10th largest circulation of all magazines in the nation with 8 million readers.