Vanishing America.
December 28, 2001 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Vanishing America. While doing some research on the "neon graveyard" in Las Vegas, I ran into this site which seeks to "discover, procure, document and preserve through photographic media the architecture and cultural landscapes situated along the highways of the U.S." While I wish that the gallery had more entries, the links section is a real gem. How else would you find out about or The grotto of the redemption?
posted by machaus (8 comments total)
Great stuff. I like to view these kinds of places online because many of them are quite a letdown if you actually visit them. I lived near Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek for a couple of years and I think that area had more kitschy crap per square mile than any other locale in the US. You couldn't turn around without tripping over a motel with fibreglass teepees or fake western towns serving chuckwagon cuisine.
posted by MrBaliHai at 3:38 PM on December 28, 2001

I don't know, MrBaliHai. While Colorado (and the West in general) has a lot of goofy stuff, you can't beat South Dakota for genuine kitsch. The fifty-mile radius around Mount Rushmore has got to encompass the greatest collections of oddball tourist traps in the history of the world.

And after having been there and experienced it in its uniquely American magnificence, who will ever forget Wall Drug?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:07 PM on December 28, 2001

Yeah, now that you mention it SD probably does trump Colorado in the oddball tourist trap department, but it's a close call. I wonder if Anton Levay's house in Manitou Springs has been turned into a museum of Satanism yet? That might tip the scales more decisively.

While I would hestitate to apply the word "magnificence" to Wall Drug, I was certainly impressed (and annoyed) by the abundance of billboards leading up to it in both directions. I still have a "Have You Dug Wall Drug?" bumpersticker and a postcard of the giant stuffed Jackalope lying around somewhere. I never did find the free ice water tho'...
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:38 PM on December 28, 2001

Roadside America is another great website for armchair travelers.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:44 PM on December 28, 2001

So many treasures have already been lost. Take The Coral Court Motel, for instance. This deco-sleaze masterpiece was once a crown jewel of Route 66, famous for the private garages attached to each unit.

But its ok that they tore it down, because now we have another subdivision. Can't get enough tract housing ...
posted by hipstertrash at 6:11 PM on December 28, 2001

All this is making me think of William Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum."
posted by allaboutgeorge at 7:07 PM on December 28, 2001

Can't get enough tract housing ...

I was driving around Minneapolis last year looking for a fabled, tiki restaurant with Polynesian floor show called The Bali Hai Supperclub. After going around in circles for 45 minutes, I finally found out that it'd been torn down just a couple of months previously to make way for a Sprint phone store. Huzzah for Progress.

Once these places are gone, we'll only know about them through the untiring efforts of Urban Archaeologists like Sven Kirsten.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:22 PM on December 28, 2001

Oh, this is lovely.... When I was a kid in the fifties, we never had the time to stop (or the money to get in) to see those that flashed by outside the car windows. To me, they're mysterious, magic places still and I always mean to stop because I can now but I'm afraid to because the moment passed.

I still like looking at their come-ons through the car window, though, and Weird New Jersey offers me some intriguing ones from time to time.
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:08 PM on December 28, 2001

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