Magazine article Curriculum Review

The Art of Roadside Architecture. (Grades 6-12)

Magazine article Curriculum Review

The Art of Roadside Architecture. (Grades 6-12)

Article excerpt

Take students on a road trip past some of the nation's most interesting commercial structures with the unit on Roadside Attractions created by the National Park Service at http://www.cr.nps.gov/NR/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/6roadside/6roadside.htm.

In this lesson, students will examine examples of roadside architecture built in the 1920s and `30s and designed to catch the eye of passing motorists --three represented literalism in advertising, one was intended as a political joke, and one was designed to lure the traveler into spending the night in an "exotic" setting. The students also will examine two examples of colossal roadside sculptures that exemplify the concept of boosterism.

Have students go online and view pictures and map locations of the Benewah Milk Bottle, Big Duck, Dinosaur Park, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, Teapot Dome Service Station, Shell Service Station and Wigwam Village No. 2, seven of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Setting the stage: Few inventions have had as great and as widespread an impact as the automobile. By 1920, more than 300 cities had roadside camping facilities for motorists and more than one million people used them. Streets and highways were quickly built or modernized and a uniform numbering system for highways was introduced in 1925; by 1930 nearly 27 million cars were registered. The production, sale, repair and servicing of cars provided work for millions. The Great Depression struck the tourist trade a great blow. …

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