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Atomic Age Architecture......It's Called Googie.

Updated on December 27, 2011
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Our Future Never Looked So Good.

I took a road trip this past summer. I drove from Wisconsin to San Diego and back again. We took the southern route mainly to visit family along the way. In doing so we were able to view many old roadside attractions that brought back feelings of nostalgia. A lot of these roadside relics were from the golden age of car travel. The late 40's thru to the early 60's were indeed the zenith of american car travel. "Get your kicks on Route 66" was the theme of those heady heydays when cars had fins and wrap around windshields.

The Atomic Age as some called it spawned a flurry of futuristic construction. Buildings and signage that spoke of a grand future and better things to come. Many WWII veterans, after using their G.I. Bill, getting their degrees and creating better lives for themselves and their families had quite a bit more disposable income that their depression era parents and they were putting those dollars to use by travelling the two lanes, route 66 and the Eisenhower built super highways just coming online at that time.

Hundreds if not thousands of hotels and motels were springing up all along those routes, catering to the motorist whims and wishes.

Competition was fierce between the rival proprietors. One way to grab the attention of a speeding motorist (as well as their bright-eyed coon skinned capped passengers) was to use bright flashing neon and intriguing architecture to wow them into stopping to take a peek at whatever wares might be available. The prospect of color TV at every turn didn't hurt either.

Googie architecture as it became to be known was the style of the day. Sharp angular roofs and intriguing font sign lettering made passerby's heads do a double take as it still does today. The car culture embraced this futuristic style as it's own and you can see it on many of the car clubs t-shirts. Candy Apple red open wheel hot rods surrounding roller skate waitressed drive-ins.

Hundreds of examples of this style still live on today with coffee shops, restaurants and bowling alleys sporting the retro, space aged look of that bygone era.

If you look close enough, surrounded by the sprawl of today, you can catch a glimpse of what our parents and grandparents saw. Building and signs that reach out to us, stirring wisps of what was and what might have been.

You just have to look. It's still there.


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    • John J Gulley profile image
      Author

      John J Gulley 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      @bearclawmedia, I had those same wistful thoughts as I was writing the piece. Thanks.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      Nicely done, I almost can taste that moment in time which came and went so quickly, just as these times are yet a mere memory in our mind collection box. Awesome hub voted up on many levels indeed.

      If I could see that imagery above I would have voted it up for beautiful as well & I'm using a wide screen TV too. lol

    • bearclawmedia profile image

      bearclawmedia 5 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

      What a lovely hub, full of positive and hopeful messages, asking us to open our eyes and see the splender of our world. Thank you