From the Big Donut to the Giant Orange

Taschen’s new book California Crazy documents the state’s legacy of bizarre roadside buildings, fuelled by Hollywood’s anything goes philosophy

During the early 20th century, peculiar pieces of architecture sprung up across California which, under the influence of the movie industry, was what author Jim Heimann describes as “a perfect incubator for the outrageous and amazing”.

With locals rejecting convention, many businesses constructed fabulously weird buildings – selling chilli dogs from a giant dog, ice cream from an oversized owl, and tights from a store topped by an enormous disembodied leg. And it didn’t stop at huge recreations. Others invested in massive signs and statues, or added lavish details reminiscent of bygone architectural styles.

 

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