Dr. Patrick’s Postcard Roadside

Main Street

Main Street

It was a challenge to affix Main Street signage to pre-Modern buildings because the architecture got in the way.

With all the columns, pediments, window hoods, textured siding and bracketed eves, there was no place for the sign, so it had to protrude perpendicularly from the front façade or be painted on the un-architectured side wall. As the Main Street commercial district got longer, taller and more complex, bigger, electrically-lit signs could only expand vertically. Several vertical signs competed for attention on Norfolk, Virginia’s Granby Street in the 1950s including two titanic neon metal box signs for the Loew’s and Norva theaters. The smooth, unornamented facades of Modernism lent themselves more readily to signage. In fact, the entire facade could present itself as one big sign as in the case of Adrian, the Butler Shoe store and Lerner Shops.

Ceder Hedges Cabins

Cedar Hedges Cabins

Cedar Hedges Cabins outside Searsport, Maine, was one of many cabin courts operating along US 1 in the 1930s.

Summer tourists bound for Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park followed Route 1 northbound along Maine’s rocky coast threading in and out of fishing villages and small ports…Bath, Waldoboro, Rockland, Camden, Belfast…before taking nightly shelter in knotty-pine cabins like Cedar Hedges to be lulled asleep by the whistle of wind through the pines.

The National Road

The National Road

The automobile rediscovered long-distance roads forgotten since the rise of the railroads, and then reshaped them to suit their purpose.

The National Road completed over the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland, Maryland, to the Ohio River at Wheeling in 1811, was rediscovered by the National Old Trails Association in 1911 when they proposed to improve it as part of a transcontinental auto trail. By the time this postcard published in 1936, the National Highway was part of transcontinental US 40 and federal funding was in place for the massive cuts and fills needed to straighten the road on the west slope Chestnut Ridge just east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A remnant bit of abandoned National Road S-curves across the line of traffic, the upper part already reseeded to grass.