Before using GPS, Americans on the road, exploring the country's newly paved road network at the beginning of the 20th century, had to rely on gas station tickets to find restaurants and other pit stops. Alternatively, you could just keep your eyes open for one of the thousands of unique buildings designed to help motorists easily see what they have to offer.
Along the famous Route 66, author Richard Ratay writes in his travel memoir Don & # 39; t Make Me Pull Over! were "colossal fiberglass human attractions": giant hot dogs, rifles, pies, cow heads, ice cream cones, and other items related to the goods that each of the owners owned. Other places have tried to differentiate themselves by offering variations of the "biggest" theme in the world, like the world's largest catsup bottle in Collinsville, Illinois.
These giant donuts, whales, teapots and other striking stops were filmed for decades by photographer John Margolies, who has made it his mission to capture Americana's stucco before disappearing. The Library of Congress acquired parts of the Margolies archive in 2007 for the first time and began digitizing those images after Margolies died in 201
Born in 1940, Margolies undertook frequent road trips with his parents. As an architectural critic, he began photographing the sights along the roadside in 1969 and continued his work until 2008. While many of these places are closed, their creative outsides live on through Margolie's lens. The rest of the collection can be found on the Library of Congress website.
All images courtesy of John Margolie's Roadside America Photo Library (1972-2008), Library of Library, Prints, and Photography Department.