A Place Just Like Every Other Place. Only Not.

“We have never been here before, but we have been here before…I can’t tell you where I am right now…We could be almost anywhere in America.”

Does this photograph look familiar? Is it Harrisonburg? Is it Staunton? Charlottesville? Could it be Cleveland, Ohio? Kansas City, Missouri? Mobile, Alabama? It could be any city in America. *If you must know it’s a picture of Laurel, Maryland.

Earlier today I stumbled across Dan Barry’s article “A Place Just Like Every Other Place. Only Not,” in the New York Times. In the article Barry discussed his trip along U.S. Route 1 with photographer Ángel Franco and Scenic America’s Kevin Fry and Brad Cownover. The group documented the visual pollution that has inundated America’s landscape and made it unrecognizable.

“To the left, the Wendy’s, like a gingerbread house from a child’s nightmare. To the right, the Burger King, like a highway restroom that sells hamburgers. And everywhere, the billboards and neon, the strip malls and parking lots, urging us to look here, here, no here, drive up, drive thru and, remember, drive safely.”

“Why are these stretches almost uniformly ugly, so much so that most of us have conditioned ourselves not to notice?”

Check out Kevin Fry’s video about the trip.


  1. finnegan

    No kidding.

    My close friends and I rarely venture outside downtown Harrisonburg these days. If you go east or south, it’s Everwhere, USA. Makes me feel like I’m back in North Austin.

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