Remembering John Margolies
Cunningham Drugs, Detroit, Michigan, 1976. THF 239803
It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of John Margolies.
Elwood Bar, Detroit, Michigan, 1986. THF 239044
John was motivated the same way many photographers with a deep appreciation for history are: he wanted to capture things that had become overlooked, structures that were endangered, vulnerable, and on the brink of destruction. But rather than choosing a neighborhood, or town or region he chose what could be found along the edges of all the old roads, the pre-interstate routes stretched throughout the United States—like a local historian of endless highways. His finest images look like stills from a perfect road movie, and they capture an element of the nation’s essence and identity—mom and pop businesses, motels, diners, crazy signage and attractions, clamoring for the attention of motorists, played out against distance and motion.
A large selection of John’s photographic slides were acquired by The Henry Ford in 2013; John also donated a great many roadside-related souvenirs and other items.
The museum’s exhibit Roadside America: Through the Lens of John Margolies ran from June 2015 to January 2016.
Marc Greuther is Vice President, Historical Resources, at The Henry Ford.
roads and road trips, popular culture, Roadside America, John Margolies, photography, photographs, in memoriam, by Marc Greuther