The American Landscape Project is a free, online, archive of photos and slides chronicling the built environment of the United States.
Most of the photos were taken by geographers and include a stunning variety of landscapes, topics, regions, and eras. Much of it is mundane, ordinary, vernacular and wonderful. Some of the collection chronicles the unique, different, exotic and weird.
Some of the photography is quite good. Much of it suffers from the limitations of the photographic technology of the past, especially the old slide film; and photographic skills of those who have contributed to this collection.
Nonetheless, this is a valuable archive of photos that I hope students of the American Landscape will find useful, educational and fun. Hopefully, it will spur your own exploration of America.
The site is under construction and will remain under construction for the foreseeable future as the collection is placed online.
How to use the archive
At present, the most effective way of searching the photo database is through the Picasa Web Album. This photo browsing web site allows visitors to navigate photos largely through the use of "tags" or key terms applied to each photo. Photos are organized into albums, but may be in multiple albums if multiple subjects or concepts are evident in the photo. Photos are largely geo-referenced as well, so the viewer can tell roughly (and sometimes very precisely) where the photo was taken.
Picasa also includes a search function that allows you to type in key terms. You can search within only the photos in the American Landscape Project collection, or all the photos in all the the Picasa public galleries.
What sort of photos are archived at this site?
Much of what is archived at this web site are photos of the American vernacular landscape. There are lots of photos of ordinary buildings, folk architectures, gas stations, motels, road signs, churches, parks, restaurants, etc.
To those who have learned to see as a geographer, there is much more; infinitely more.
What happened to this site?
A few years ago, just as this site was beginning to get visitors, it became clear to me that this web site was badly failing to comply with proper accessibility standards. My web authoring skills, limited as they are, prohibited me from making the needed upgrades. Several things have changed making a rebirth of this web site possible.
Look for additions to the collection and a much better search interface in the future.
This web site is dedicated in part to keeping alive the considerable legacy of
John Brinckerhoff Jackson