Download 11,710 Free-to-Use Photos Of Roadside Americana

Christie’s Restaurant sign, cowboy shrimp, Houston, Texas (1983) (Photo: John Margolies)

The U.S. Library of Congress has published over 11,000 high-resolution shots of U.S. roadside attractions, and released the images (to which it had purchased the rights) into the public domain. The photos were taken by architectural critic and photographer John Margolies, who spent forty years documenting his travels along U.S. highways, photographing billboards, drive-ins, diners, car washes, mini-golf, novelty buildings and other roadside constructions.

According to the Washington Post, Margolies wouldn’t photograph a building or object “unless and until he can capture the subject in full sun with a cloudless sky, with no people in the frame.” The result is clear, uncluttered imagery of quirky art and architecture.

The full collection is available at the Library of Congress website, but the Library is also building a Flickr gallery that more elegantly shows off the photos. (That gallery currently has 1,605 images.) As the images are public domain, you can use them any way you please, even commercially.

The blogs Public Domain Review and Boing Boing have collected their favourites. Here are ours.

Solvang Castle Inn, Route 246, Solvang, California (1985) (Photo: John Margolies)
Peach water tower, Frontage Road, Gaffney, South Carolina (1988) (Photo: John Margolies)
The Whale Car Wash, N. 50th & Meridian, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1979) (Photo: John Margolies)
Coca Cola Bottling Company, single door detail, 14th & Central Avenue, Los Angeles, California (1977) (Photo: John Margolies)
Deschwanden’s Shoe Repair (“The Big Shoe”), 10th & Chester, Bakersfield, California (1977) (Photo: John Margolies)
Headless statue, Marineland, Florida (1990) (Photo: John Margolies)
Teapot Dome gas station, Zillah, Washington (1987) (Photo: John Margolies)
Tire Man Big Brand tire statue, Van Nuys, California (1991) (Photo: John Margolies)
Mister Doughnut sign, Route 201, Waterville, Maine (1984) (Photo: John Margolies)

John Margolies collection | Library of Congress (via Boing Boing)


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