'Gas and Glamour' a Journey Through So. Cal's Roadside Architecture

'Gas and Glamour' a Journey Through So. Cal's Roadside Architecture

For the last four years, the New York-based photographer has been hunting for L.A.’s midcentury roadside architecture and going to great pains to capture the sparkling neon and stucco motels, coffee shops, and gas stations for his new book, Gas and Glamour “I had this idea of Los Angeles as sort of a dream city,” Sinha says. “In my fantasy, there should be a certain kind of a glow to it. That’s where I got the title.” via LA Mag​​​​​​​

Capturing a distinct sense of place is a recurring theme throughout Ashok Sinha‘s work which focuses on the built environment. Sinha also passionately looks at world cultures through a fine arts lens depicting both the beauty of the natural world and uncovering intriguing human-interest stories. His photographs have been exhibited at The Museum of the City of New York, the International Center of Photography, and The Royal Photographic Society. via​​​​​​​

Los Angeles is undoubtedly America’s most car-centric city. Automobiles arrived there near the turn of the twentieth century, burgeoned during the 1920s and surged by midcentury. The postwar baby boom drove dramatic population growth, generating newly-built freeways and proliferating real estate. From “the Valley” to the harbor and Hollywood in between, everyone took to the road.

​​​​​​​This optimistic “car culture” produced a new kind of celebratory roadside vernacular architecture, that was synonymous with mid-century optimism and ambition. Surfacing in the late 1940s and lasting until the mid-1960s a clear culture shift with a host of polychromatic, star-spangled coffee shops, gas stations, car washes, and other attractions lured the gaze of passing motorists. These buildings were like advertising billboards, as well as symbols of consumerism that sent a universal messaging to the drivers and beckoned them to come inside. They also often played a role within the social fabric of the communities that they were part of, and sometimes injected a hint of humor in the nature of the vernacular architecture itself. While some of these iconic buildings have since been lost, many have somehow endured the test of time and redevelopment, standing as sculptural icons of an era that shaped LA into one vast drive-through experience via Gas & Glamour

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