Historic Shell Gas Station, Raleigh, North Carolina
Old Gas Pumps, Hackberry General Store, Route 66, Hackberry, Arizona
Abandoned Gas Station, Selma, Alabama
Old Gas Station. Eufaula, Alabama
Disappearing America: Maybe We Should Take Pictures of Old Gas Stations
Photography by: Carol M. Highsmith
Washington-based photographer Carol Highsmith has been photographing the American landscape for the past 30 years. Her latest project involves a 50-state tour documenting the cities, towns and countryside of 21st-century America. She is collaborating on the 15-year project with the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to whom she is donating her entire body of work, copyright-free.
Highsmith’s collection of photographs called Disappearing America documents a number of remote destinations, capturing covered bridges from Vermont to Indiana, murals and neon figures, classic cars and old motor courts, abandoned steel mills, plantation ruins and abandoned gas stations. Think what you will about big oil corporations, gas stations represent an important kind of small local business where all sorts of people have tried to make their start.
Certainly that was the case with many of these abandoned stations. The striking dissonance between the beautiful bright light and clear simple frontal compositions, on the one hand, and the evidence of dereliction, on the other, tends to obscure the sadness of the abandonment. Nevertheless, these are landmarks of an eerie kind, and documenting landmarks, especially out-of-the-way ones that otherwise might be overlooked forever, is close to the essence of Carol Highsmith’s project.
Photographer Carol Highsmith: A 15-Year Project to Document America
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