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October 26, 2020

Vintage Roadside America: 30 Cool Photos Show Signs Along the U.S. Streets in the Late 1970s

John Samuel Margolies (1940-2016) was an American architectural critic, photographer, and author who was noted for celebrating vernacular and novelty architecture in the United States, particularly those designed as roadside attractions.

Signs along the U.S. streets in the late 1970s taken by John Samuel Margolies

Starting from the mid-1970s, Margolies began to photograph sites during long road trips, since he was concerned these sites would be displaced by the growing modernist trend. He was credited with shaping postmodern architecture and recognizing buildings that would be added to the National Register of Historic Places through his documentary work.

Starting in 2007, the Library of Congress began to acquire his photographs, and created the public domain John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive in 2016, consisting of 11,710 scans of color slides taken by Margolies.

Take a journey along U.S. main streets, byways, and highways through photographs taken by John Margolies in the late 1970s.

Arizona. Dairy Queen ice cream sign, Gila Bend

Arizona. Hanks Coffee Shop sign, 4th Street, Benson

Arizona. Owl Lodge sign, Benson Highway, South Tucson

Arkansas. Tastee In ice cream sign, closer detail, Route 67, Arkadelphia

California. Doggie Diner sign, McArthur Boulevard & San Pablo, Oakland

California. McDonald's Restaurant sign, detail one, Route 66, Azusa

Florida. Cremo ice cream sign in decay, Jacksonville

Kansas. Cafe ice cream sign, Galena

Kansas. Jac's Chicken Steak ice cream sign, Wichita

Kansas. The Hutch Drive-In ice cream sign, South Hutchinson

Kansas. Western-Ho Motel sign, Route 54, Liberal

Kansas. Zesto ice cream sign, Wichita

Kentucky. Clark's ice cream sign, Bowling Green

Louisiana. Ko-Ko-Mo Dine In Your Car sign, Routes 79 & 80, Bossier City

Louisiana. Reed & Bell Drive-In ice cream sign, Alexandria

Massachusetts. Mr. Peanut sign, Route 6, Swansea

Mississippi. Cream Castle ice cream sign, W. Malone, Sikeston

Missouri. Mobil flying red horse sign, Rt. 60B, Mountain Grove

New Mexico. Drive In ice cream sign, Route 124, Cubero

New Mexico. Jack's Liquor sign, Central Avenue, Albuquerque

New Mexico. Simon's Western Wear sign, Central Avenue, Albuquerque

New Mexico. Tastee Freez ice cream sign, Santa Fe

North Carolina. Big Giant ice cream sign, Route 25, Asheville

Oklahoma. Charburg ice cream sign, E. Main Street, Enid

Oklahoma. Dairy Bar ice cream sign, Route 64, Vian

Oklahoma. Dairy Boy ice cream sign, Rt. 66, El Reno

Tennessee. Big Orange ice cream sign, Rt. 41A, Clarksville

Tennessee. Kay's ice cream sign, Knoxville

Tennessee. Kream Kastle ice cream sign, Rt. 70, Brownsville

Wisconsin. Town Pride Drive-In Restaurant sign, angle one, Teutonia at Villard Avenue, Milwaukee

(Photo © John Margolies)


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