Vintage Snapshots: Roadside Architecture Across The US — 1970s-1980s

It’s no secret that we’re fascinated by all things automotive here at CC; be it cars, the people around them, or the spaces they inhabit. In that tradition, we’ll feature a nice gallery of roadside architecture for today. A theme that’s no stranger to these pages, as these novelty buildings have often appeared in our posts; either on their own or playing supporting roles in many of our posts.

As known, roadside architecture is a phenomenon mostly born in the 20th Century. While one can find earlier versions (even the Sphynx sort of fits the idea), the exponential growth of car travel established the trend for good, particularly in the US. Mostly created for commercial purposes at first, it’s essentially its own thing and is fed by the never-ending human need for the new and surprising. And that’s what these structures certainly offered; surprise and wonder to the unsuspecting.

Today’s images come from the Library of Congress and were taken by architecture critic and photographer John Margolies. As you’ll see, they contain novelty buildings and signs of all sorts, offering whimsical and quite unusual sights. Talking about which, the lede image is the Coney Island Dairyland, in Aspen Park, Colorado.

Harold’s Auto Center, Springfield, Florida, 1979.

The Donut Hole, La Puente, California, 1991.

Peach Water Tower, Gaffney, South Carolina, 1988.

Hats n’ Boots gas station, route 99, Seattle, Washington, 1980.

The Whale Car Wash, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1979.

Orange Julep, Route 9, Plattsburgh, New York, 1978.

Grisham’s Milk Bottle, Corpus Christi, Texas, 1988.

Mother Goose Market, Hazard, Kentucky, 1979.

Bob’s Jave Jive, Tacoma, Washington, 1979.

Jaycees Building “World’s Largest Bureau”, High Point, North Carolina, 1982.

Hoot Owl Cafe, Los Angeles, California, 1977.

Shell Gas Station, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1982.

Frontage Road, I-5, Albany, Oregon, 1987.

Erie Foreign Car Parts, Whitesboro, New York, 1987.

Leaning Tower of Pizza, Quincy, Massachusetts, 1984.


More Vintage Photos Here