Design: Legacy of the Golden Arches

Highbrows Celebrate Lowbrow Fast-Food Architecture

There was a time, unremembered by most Americans, when Burger King and Pizza Hut and Dunkin' Donuts did not dominate the nation's highways and boulevards. ! The proliferation of chain restaurants (60,000 at last count) is a signal social fact of the past four decades, a transformation of the commercial landscape more swift and radical than any other in U.S. history. Strung out along main drags in every city, fast-food franchises become the strip, identically chaotic collages of glowing signs and prefab construction. The helter-skelter of the strip is the urban critic's most convenient cliche --cheap-jack American laissez-faire run amuck.

For...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!