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This Memorial Day weekend, more than 38 million Americans will hit the road in one way or another, according to AAA projections. If the numbers pan out, that will make 2016 the most traveled Memorial Day in a decade, largely thanks to lower gas prices. It will be a chance to get out of the city, 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 that is traffic remains ever the same.