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Pic(s) of the Week: Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn… Special Edition!

Dusk, Las Vegas, Nevada. The Carol M. Highsmith Archive. Prints & Photographs Division.

“Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn…” was part of a saucy lyric in the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, and that inspires our quick tour through the Library’s new Free to Use and Reuse set of “Hotels, Motels & Inns” photographs.

They’re part of the Library’s vast catalog of copyright-free pictures that you can download, reprint and display any way you like. The Library’s homepage features a different assortment each month — last month, we went with ice cream — and this month, we’re going with vacation spots in this, the last great getaway month of the season. And what better to get you in the mood than Las Vegas at dusk, photographed above by the great Carol Highsmith?

Photochrom print of Interlaken, Switzerland, c 1890. Detroit Publishing Co. Prints & Photographs Division.

For our “hotel” entry, we’ll reach back to 1890 for a photocrom (colorized) print of the hotels in Interlaken, the central town in the Bernese Oberland section of Switzerland. The Alps provide a breathtaking backdrop. It just begs for the whistle stop of trains, of trunks being unloaded and taken to your room, and cigar rooms for gentlemen after dinner. This image is from the Detroit Publishing Company, which specialized in these sort of colorized, sweeping vistas, both of rural and city life at the turn of the century. The Library’s collection runs to 35,000 glass negatives and transparencies as well as about 300 color photolithograph prints.

Motel in Wildwood, N.J. The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Prints & Photographs Division.

There are a lot of “motel” options to pick from, but let’s go with this sunny, I-just-remember-we’re-in-the-room-with-red-door classic, also from Highsmith, in Wildwood, N.J. The colors pop, sure, but did you notice the color sequence slides down left to right, floor by floor? The lime-green steps down and over with each descending floor, as does the orange…it’s like the tic-tac-toe of roadside attractions.

John Margolies, Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008). Prints & Photographs Division.

And, finally, we come to the “Holiday Inn” entry. Save a prayer for the souls behind the orange door of room 141 in Brockton, Mass., surviving life behind those mustard yellow curtains, the day photographer John Margolies stopped by in 1978. You can hear the ice machine chunking away in the stairwell a few doors down, just like you know that air conditioning unit below the plate-glass windows is going to start humming and leaking water on the sidewalk any minute now. The runoff will trickle down to those two sad little bushes that are never, ever going to do anything but trip people stumbling to their rooms in the dark.

Use these and the others all you like, but remember that checkout is at 11 a.m. and please drop off your room key at the front desk on your way out. We’ll leave the light on for you.

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