WMU News

Geographer tells tales of the American roadside

Oct. 16, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A geographer and Western Michigan University alumnus who has written three books on such roadside attractions as motels, fast food and gas stations will be a featured speaker at Western Michigan University Thursday, Oct. 19.

Dr. John Jakle, professor of geography and landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will talk about the ever-changing U.S. landscape, as seen from the windows of the nation's automobiles, in a presentation titled "The American Roadside: Lessons Learned Along the Way." His talk, which is set for 4 p.m. in Room 1010 of the Fetzer Center, is sponsored by the Department of Geography and is free and open to the public.

Jakle, who graduated from WMU in 1961 with bachelor's degrees in geography and marketing, is a historical geographer and observer of the changing North American landscape. He will be on campus to receive an Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Arts and Sciences on Oct. 20.

His presentation will be based on his three most recent books, "Fast Food--Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age," "The Motel in America," and "The Gas Station in America." Jakle's book on fast food, which he co-authored with Keith A. Sculle, takes a look at the origins, architecture and commercial growth of wayside eateries in the U.S. over the past century. The book drew enthusiastic praise from reviewers for The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, as well as Newsweek commentator George F. Will.

For more information, contact David Dickason, professor of geography, at (616) 387-3417.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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