Norris's essay seems mostly gleaned from a close reading of an interstate guide, counting the numbers and types of businesses found at rural exits (a surely tedious exercise that was aided by his students, as acknowledged in the essay). The author states that he augmented that somewhat detached method with field visits to exits in Tennessee. Putting aside the implication that this scholarship was little more than the counting and classification of dots on a map, I appreciated Norris's willingness to propose a naming-system for the various types of rural exits that can be found along (at least one) interstate highway, and I enjoyed his occasionally witty and critical prose. Finding a fair amount of diversity in the types of rural exit, Norris concludes with a useful reminder:
"Roadside homogeneity in American culture is a common assumptive slur which does not survive close scrutiny. The commercial cluster at an interstate does follow norms of form, scale, composition, and structure, but in detail its repertoire is endless and bears witness to the regional variation which pervades and enriches American mass culture" (p. 31).Read the entire article: Norris, D.A. (1987). Interstate highway exit morphology: Non-metropolitan exit commerce on I-75. Professional Geographer, 39(1), 23-32.
On the subject of roadside Americana, I plan to write an essay on Route 66 simulacra that are located on or near the highway. Here I'm referring to tourist attractions, museums, and even casinos that reproduce "Mother Road" memorabilia, places, and objects for folks who do not have time or desire to see the real thing. Any suggestions for necessary stops are most appreciated.
(Photograph by Andrew Wood)