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What America’s first board game tells us about the aspirations of a young nation

Still Waters

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Board games are booming: In 2023 alone, the industry topped $16.8 billion globally, and by 2032, it’s projected to reach $40.1 billion.

Produced by the New York cartography firm of F. & R. Lockwood, the Travelers’ Tour was an imitation of earlier European geography games, a genre of educational game. These activities generally used a map for a board, and the rules involved players reciting geographic facts as they raced toward the finish.

The Travelers’ Tour first appeared in 1822, making it the earliest known board game printed in the U.S.


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