Newly revealed photos from the Library of Congress show metro Detroit’s vintage roadside signs and storefronts
In July, the Library of Congress published more than 10,000 vintage photographs of signs, storefronts, and other roadside oddities shot by photographer John Margolies during long, cross-country treks along U.S. highways.
These images — taken with a 35mm camera in the 1970s, '80s, and early '90s — capture theaters, gas stations, dinosaur parks, strip clubs, hotels, diners, bars, mini-golf, and ice cream stands throughout the greater metro Detroit area. Since the photos are public domain — meaning we can share them with you — we've selected some of our favorite images for a much-needed throwback to the days before digital billboards.
Some of these buildings and signs are no longer standing, some have been preserved, and others have been given a new life as, well, maybe a Starbucks or Taco Bell/KFC combination abominations. And some may still exist, though, hollow, or, in the case of signs, shadows of yesteryear. Thankfully for us, the Uniroyal tire remains, as do some of the dinosaurs, and the hamburger donkey.
We're thankful for Margolies' dedication to preserving everyday Americana so that we can remember where we came from and how the hell we got here.
This collection includes images from Detroit, Royal Oak, Dearborn, Ferndale, Roseville, as well as Lansing, Bay City, Adrian, and several places beyond and in between. Included in the captions are links to the Library of Congress photo page, readers can find more about each photograph.