Explore the Golden Age of American Roadside Culture through Vintage Photos from the 1960s to the 2000s
The United States is one- of-a-kind when it comes to traveling within its own borders. It’s not just about flights, but also about taking road trips through its vast landscape filled with roadside attractions.
In order to document this unique phenomenon, John Margolies began taking photographs of the American roadside and archiving them. Taking it a step further, Parker Higgins created a Twitter bot to share these remarkable photos on a page called Old Roadside Pics.
John Margolies (born 1940) is an award-winning photographer known for his work documenting vernacular architecture in the United States. His love for the road began in his youth when he would travel with his family. At 16, he got his first car, a 1948 Oldsmobile, and hit the road.
Margolies’ academic life and career were related to photography in some way, such as journalism, art history and architecture. In the mid 1970s he officially began photographing vernacular architecture.
He knew very little about photography, yet had a good understanding of what he wanted from his Canon cameras. He used the stock 50mm lenses and ASA 25 film for their color saturation.
In his 2010 book “Road side America,” journalist and author Phil Patton elaborated about how photographer John Margolies would set out on the road. Margolies would typically rent a car and leave in late spring or just after Labor Day, when the roads are less congested. He packed coolers to keep his film cool, which reduces film degradation and desaturation, while his other belongings were packed away in bags. Most often, he would stay in motels until early morning to take advantage of the less crowded roads and the clear blue skies that make the perfect ambient lighting for photography.