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Roll through LA’s past in these awesome roadside architecture photos

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John Margolies was a fan of everyday architecture, snapping photos of giant donuts, service stations, and motels

Inglewood’s Big Do-Nut Drive-In, the predecessor to Randy’s Donuts, 1976.
All photos courtesy of John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The outstanding, mostly bygone roadside architecture of Los Angeles and beyond lives on today in the thousands of photos taken by John Margolies beginning in the 1970s.

Some of his most memorable photographs surfaced Monday, when the long-running and influential blog Kottke posted about the collection of Margolies’s photos that are publicly available through the Library of Congress.

The one-time editor at Architectural Record magazine and program director at the Architectural League of New York had a great eye, capturing some of Los Angeles’s best programmatic architecture—the Tail O’ the Pup hot dog stand, Long Beach’s Hot Cha teapot-shaped structure, the famed La Puente Donut Hole—as well as motels, gas stations, tourist traps, and storefronts.

As the New York Times noted in its 2016 obituary for the photographer, many of Margolies’s subjects have since been demolished. In Los Angeles, quite a few of the buildings remain but look very different than they did in these vibrant ’70s snapshots.

Below, we’ve selected some of our favorite images from the series. You can view the rest here.

The Donut Hole in La Puente, 1991.
Tail O’ the Pup hot dog stand, 1981.
A garage at 1910 Long Beach Boulevard in Long Beach, 1977.
The Hot Cha in Long Beach, 1977.
Johnie’s Coffee Shop on Fairfax and Wilshire, 1977.
A gas station at 7229 W. Melrose Avenue in Fairfax, 1977.
Castle Park Golf in Sherman Oaks, 1981.
A Santa Monica storefront, 1977.