TODAY IN HISTORY: Founding of AAA (March 4, 1902)
It was 1902 and automobiles were quickly becoming the vehicle of choice. Road conditions, however, were deplorable. The relatively small number of drivers had to fight for the right to even use some roads in favor of horse drawn carriages. Small groups of drivers had formed clubs across the country to exchange driving and automobile tips. On March 4, 1902 a group of approximately 1000 automobile enthusiasts and members of these clubs joined forces in Cleveland, Ohio to form a not-for-profit lobbying organization. Over time, the AAA enhanced membership benefits. The first road maps were published in 1905 and hotel guides followed in 1917. Today, the not-for-profit organization provides emergency roadside assistance to members, and has expanded its offerings to include various financial and travel-arrangement services. AAA offers credit cards, insurance, and vehicle financing, and it operates travel agencies and publishes maps and travel guides. AAA and its affiliated auto clubs maintain about 1,100 facilities to serve more than 50 million members in the US and Canada. Its national headquarters is located in Heathrow, Florida.