The Library of Congress houses the John Margolies Roadside America Photographic Archives. This archive contains nearly 12,000 photographs of interesting roadside attractions across the United States and eastern Canada. The collection includes images of things like dinosaur-shaped gas stations, windmills that serve as ice cream stands, funky miniature golf courses, and plenty of neon signs for motels and restaurants.
Recently, the Library of Congress published an ESRI Story Map of photographs in the John Margolies Roadside America Photographic Archives. The map is titled Roadside America. You can view the images on an interactive map or just scroll through some of the collection’s organized image collections. I found it fun to click on the markers on the map to see some of the roadside attractions in my home country as well as others in the country. But before I go looking for them, I must point out that most of the photographs represent things that are no longer on the side of the road.
By clicking on the Roadside America map, you will be able to access the LOC pages that host the images. There you can download the images in different sizes. Images are free for reuse. Image recording and citation information is available on every page the images are hosted on.
Applications for education
Roadside America offers a good way for students to experience some pieces of America past and present. I would use the map as a way to pique students’ curiosity to do a little research on some of these interesting roadside attractions. I could also use the map as a template to have students create their own roadside attraction maps of places in their home country that they may have seen and / or photographed.
Featured image credit: Margolies, John, photographer. Harold’s Auto Center, horizontal view, Sinclair gas station, Route 19, Spring Hill, Florida. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2017702118/