Most commercial architecture in North America is some variation on the shed: four sides, one street-facing façade. But as the automobile came to dominate spatial order in the 20th century, the simple lettered fronts and vitrine displays of old were no longer enough to stand out at highway speed. Clever business owners began to make use of bright, graphic forms to both attract passersby and hint at the contents inside. Some were relatively subtle visual jewellery in neon and painted metal, while others were total sculptural subversions of the sheds themselves.
Since at least the 1970s, these original roadside forms have mostly vanished, replaced by the template architecture and standard corporate logos on backlit plastic that visually define car-centric cities of today. Still, the dwindling number that remain are beautiful in their exuberance, simplicity, and imperfect workmanship. These photographs, all taken on recent road trips, show five archetypical examples of roadside hellos from the height of the automobile age.