Written By: Lily Rothman, Liz Ronk

Memorial Day weekend is a chance to get out of town, have an adventure, see friends and family—with the inevitable result that many, many people will get stuck in traffic at some point over the next couple of days.

But, if it’s any consolation, that’s nothing new. In 1949, LIFE magazine captured the huge numbers of cars that swarmed American roads during the holiday. In New York City and Boston, photographers Cornell Capa, Yale Joel and Tony Linck found that it was bumper-to-bumper. These photographs were never published in the pages of LIFE, but they are as relevant now as they ever were. The makes and models of the cars may have changed but the aggravating bother of holiday weekend traffic remains ever the same.

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

A traffic jam in New York City on Memorial Day Weekend, 1949.

Cornell Capa The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars approached the George Washington Bridge in the evening during Memorial Day traffic, 1949.

Cornell Capa The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars approached the George Washington Bridge in the evening during Memorial Day weekend, 1949.

Cornell Capa The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars exited the George Washington Bridge in the afternoon during Memorial Day traffic, 1949.

Cornell Capa The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars exited the George Washington Bridge in the afternoon during Memorial Day, 1949.

Cornell Capa The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars drove in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Memorial Day in Boston, 1949.

Yale Joel The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars drove slowly through the Sumner tunnel during Memorial Day traffic, Boston, 1949.

Yale Joel The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

Traffic jams on Memorial Day weekend in 1949.

Cars filled the parking lots on Memorial Day. Boston, 1949.

Tony Linck The LIFE Picture Collecion/Shutterstock

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