Drawn to diners and other Twentieth Century roadside architecture, photographer John Woolf embarked on a project of capturing images of these buildings †especially those in the Northeast industrial corridor from New Jersey to Maine.
Twenty compelling photographs in this series can be seen in the exhibition “Night Road,” which opens on November 6 at the National Heritage Museum and will be on view through May 31.
Most of these structures combine signage †both lettered and neon †designed to attract the attention of nocturnal travelers. As Woolf describes, “At night, with a mixture of the road’s various artificial light sources, interior lights shining through highly visible windows, and eye-catching, garish neon signs, these buildings and their surroundings suggest a film-noir movie set photographed in Technicolor.”
The popular architectural treasures highlighted in the photos date from an era when commercial buildings were more playful and symbolic than they are today. In the mid-1900s, builders constructed even common structures with a high level of craftsmanship and imagination. Some of these relics remain, and Woolf has captured them before they fade away.
The National Heritage Museum is at 33 Marrett Road. For more information, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org or 781-861-6559.