Today I'm featuring the programmatic advertising architecture seen along Route 1 north of Boston, Massachusetts. This was originally an old road known as the Newburyport Turnpike. During the 20th century and the development of the interstate highway system, this road became Route 1, which stretches from the Canadian border with Maine, all the way to Key West in the state of Florida.
Last week I featured the Clam Box on Route 1A in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This architecture seen on Route 1 north of Boston is similar. It was developed to attract the travelers leaving or approach Boston, with wild and inventive colors and shapes. There are some restaurants and attractions built here in the early and mid 20th century that can be described as fun, tacky, weird, grotesque and/or historical- all depending on your point of view.
The Route 1 Mini Golf has been open since 1958. It has now added batting cages and an arcade to attract modern youngsters, but the orange dinosaur has been there since the beginning. When we were first married we lived in Malden, Massachusetts. When I saw the orange dinosaur I knew I was at our exit to go home. It's a landmark in many, many ways, as well as a real piece of history and nostalgia on Route 1. No matter where you live in the USA, many of the roadside mini golf courses used to have all sorts of interesting themed creations and structures to attract the "golfers".
The Kowloon Restaurant was established in 1950 by the Wong Family. At first it occupied the small section of the building right next to the roadside sign. It has since grown into a huge building that seats over 1200 people. Generations of Bostonians were introduced to Chinese food at this establishment, how about you? Check out the website below for lots of nostalgic looks at old menus, matchbooks and decor from over the years at the Kowloon.
The Hilltop Steakhouse is famous for it's huge portions of food, and for the huge plaster steer grazing on the front lawn as the traffic zips by. My parents went on dates here, and there is a famous family story about my Mom enjoying her first "Manhattan" mixed drink at the Hilltop (don't worry, Mom, I won't tell the story). I'm sure that if you lived or went to school in the Boston area, you had at least one steak dinner at the Hilltop. Generations of MIT students know the story of how one of these plaster cows was part of a very famous hack on their campus, too.
The Prince Pizzeria was built by the Castraberti family in 1961. It still has the leaning tower of Pisa on the roof. It was originally a drive-in pizza place known as the "Leaning Tower of Pizza" owned by the Prince pasta company.
Of course, on Route 1 you will still find a 1950's style McDonald's restaurant, too, complete with the original style golden arches. There aren't many of these left in New England. I remember when these were just counters for take out. What did the first McDonald's you visited look like?
This wooden ship is a seafood restaurant known as "The Ship", but it is now part of a large complex housing a Christmas Tree Shop, complete with a lighthouse and wharf buildings. This restaurant was first opened in 1925 by a Gloucester sea captain named James F. Wilkinson as a roadside stand. He was trying to save money from the restaurant to build his own ship, but this is the ship he ended up building instead! It has been a landmark along this road longer than any of the other interesting buildings along Route 1 north of Boston. As a child I remember riding up Route 1A from Boston towards the North Shore, and watching out the car window for the dinosaur, the giant cactus and cows, and finally the ship.
The Ship restaurant is still owned by members of the Wilkinson family. I have checked the census records, and the original Captain James F. Wilkinson was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He died in Lynnfield in 1940. No, he can't be a relative, but it was tempting to check to see if he was a cousin!
Route 1 Mini Golf and Batting Cages website http://www.theorangedinosaur.com/
The Kowloon Restaurant http://www.kowloonrestaurant.com/
The Hilltop Steakhouse website: http://www.hilltopsteakhouse.com/
The Prince Pizzeria website http://www.princepizzeria.com/
The Ship restaurant website: http://www.theshiprestaurant.com/
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Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo