Before the advent of corporate communications and architectural uniformity, America’s built environment was a free-form landscape of individual expression. Signs, artifacts, and even buildings ranged from playful to eccentric, from deliciously cartoonish to quasipsychedelic. Photographer John Margolies spent over three decades and drove more than 100,000 miles documenting these fascinating and endearingly artisanal examples of roadside advertising and fantasy structures, a fast-fading aspect of Americana.
This book brings together approximately 400 color photographs of Main Street signs, movie theaters, gas stations, fast food restaurants, motels, roadside attractions, miniature golf courses, dinosaurs, giant figures and animals, and fantasy coastal resorts. In an age when online shopping and mega-malls have reconfigured American consumerism, stripping away idiosyncracy in favor of a bland homogeneity, Margolies’s elegiac 30-year survey reminds us of a more innocent unpredictable and colorful past.