NPR logo Roadside America: The Decline Of Kitsch?

Daily Picture Show

Roadside America: The Decline Of Kitsch?

Somewhere in the far-off kingdom of Virginia is a place called the Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze. I've now passed it thrice by car, and have somehow resisted the urge to stop each time. This kind of kitschy, roadside advertising is strangely effective; it has personality, charm and a certain lunacy that makes one mutter affectionately, "Only in America." On the other hand, in a competition with Starbucks and McDonalds for ad space, roadside Americana could be a dying art.

1 of 12

View slideshow i

A new book by photographer John Margolies, Roadside America, explores our evolving taste and the changing face of America's roadsides. It's a survey of oddities — jumbo bananas, wacky billboard language, neon lights — that has been documenting for the past 30 years, over the course of 100,000 miles on the road.

Roadside America

Roadside America by John Margolies (Taschen, 2010) hide caption

toggle caption

Maybe I'm wrong, but we don't seem to be erecting enormous papier-mache-looking dinosaurs in the middle of nowhere anymore. Unfortunately. Our tastes have apparently changed.

I would really love to be proved wrong. If you've seen new manifestations of weird roadside attractions, take a photo and add it to our group pool on Flickr. Or if you've seen them abroad — even better!

Seen something neat? Show us!
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.