Roadside America

John Margolies’ Roadside America captures fading landmarks to American automobile culture. Margolies, appetite whetted on road trips with parents who never pulled over, began crisscrossing the country in the mid-1970s. He documented against blue skies motels, drive-ins, diners, gas stations and other businesses with eye-catching architecture. Mainstream architects took time to come around to his appreciation, notes Phil Patton in his introduction to the volume of photographs. It wasn’t until 1972 that architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown mounted a defense of the vernacular architecture of the roadside strip, particularly the “Decorated Shed” – normal buildings with quirky signage – or the “Duck,” in which a building is shaped like its function. Below, selected images from Roadside America

San Pedro Drive-In Theatre, San Pedro, California, 1979

San Pedro Drive-In Theatre, San Pedro, California, 1979

Western Holiday Motel, Wichita, Kansas, 1993

Western Holiday Motel, Wichita, Kansas, 1993

Cuban Liquors, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1982

Cuban Liquors, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1982

Supersonic Car Wash, Billings, Montana, 1980

Supersonic Car Wash, Billings, Montana, 1980

Martin Theater, Panama City, Florida, 1979

Martin Theater, Panama City, Florida, 1979

Leaning Tower of Niles YMCA, Niles, Illinois, 2002

Leaning Tower of Niles YMCA, Niles, Illinois, 2002

Old Jail Tours, St. Augustine, Florida, 1979

Old Jail Tours, St. Augustine, Florida, 1979

*All photographs courtesy TASCHEN America.

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