T4 : Road to Ruscha

The Route 66 section of my project is heavily research driven, a more forensic research than might normally be expected because I have to find his 26 gasoline stations locations based on a series of simple captions - Bob's Service, Los Angeles, CA or Texaco, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. The only other geographical clue is that they're all on Route 66, so that cuts it down somewhat, although "Los Angeles" is still a pretty major length of road to go checking all the buildings on... I have found a useful resource though, and that's the website of a research based art project called Road to Ruscha by the art, art history, architecture, and geography students and faculty of the University of Oklahoma, who covered the journey back in 2013 (the 50th anniversary of the book). There's also a few blogs around the subject too, such as this one by one of the faculty members.

I got quite excited when I saw a map with all the photographs from the book pinned on it, I thought my research had been shortcut. But no, the map is wildly inaccurate and I can only assume that the locations were marked from a distance. If we take the Texaco on Sunset Strip as an example, they have located it at Hammond Street, a residential area situated roughly 11 miles from the actual location at 8795 Sunset Boulevard, which I found by Googling the Har-Omar Restaurant, a sign for which is in Ruscha's photograph. However, whilst the map is next to useless, there are photographs and short blog entries about their discoveries, dead-ends and u-turns, some of which has already proven invaluable in locating the stations that have been demolished or repurposed. Photographs of street signs are quite useful, even if the locations they're in aren't given there's only 26 to check, so it's certainly helpful.

road-to-ruscha
Road to Ruscha map - Western Section
(from http://roadtoruscha.com/2013/map/)

los-angeles
Road to Ruscha map - Los Angeles
(from http://roadtoruscha.com/2013/map/)

not-texaco
Road to Ruscha map - "Texaco, Sunset Strip" [not]
(from http://roadtoruscha.com/2013/map/)

Even so, the locating of the gasoline stations is still proving problematic. It looks like one of the towns featured in Ruscha's book has been completely demolished when you look on Google's satellite view, although there are still a few buildings left when you look on the earlier GSV, but none of them look like what I was expecting in Ludlow. Maybe that one has gone and can only be approximated? Others have gone, but there are still traces of what was before, the one on Sunset Strip being an example of this as the restaurant still remains and is easily identifiable, but it looks like the gas station is now outside dining. It's similar in other locations too, and I've only confirmed that they're what I believe they're meant to be using the backgrounds.

So far, I've located just over half of the sites, with a couple more that are possibles although I'm not completely certain it's the right place, and maybe I never will be. Having found the locations, I'm pseudo-photographing them; picking a location from GSV and composing what I want the shot to look like. Maybe they'll be similar to Ruscha's photograph, but I don't feel that is necessary (nor even possible in some instances). They'll be something I think suits my purposes. In terms of the aesthetics of the images though, I have done some manipulation. I've straightened things, removed excessive convergence that can occur with GSV, I'm not removing other GSV "features" though. I'm also converting them to a monochrome image, purely as a reference to the source material. I might change these choices before the end, we'll see how things go.

Anyway, here's the Texaco that I've been talking about as it was
before and how it is now(ish).

texaco-gsv
Texaco location from GSV
(screen captured March 2015)

texaco-sunset-blvd
Texaco, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, CA [GSV Dec 2014]

Resources:
roadtoruscha.com
toddstewartphotography.net

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