Jakle, John A. 1939- (John Allais Jakle)

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Jakle, John A. 1939- (John Allais Jakle)


Born May 16, 1939, in Terre Haute, IN; son of John D. and Irene Jakle; married Cynthia Powell (a librarian), 1958; children: Stephanie Jakle Movahedi-Lankarani, Barbara. Ethnicity: "German-American, French-American." Education: Western Michigan University, B.B.A., 1961; Southern Illinois University, M.A., 1963; Indiana University, Ph.D., 1967.


Home—Urbana, IL; fax: 217-244-1785. Office—Department of Geography, 220 Davenport Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.


University of Maine at Orono, Orono, assistant professor of geography, 1965-66; Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, instructor in geography, 1966-67; University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, assistant professor, 1967-70, associate professor, 1970-82, professor of geography, 1982-2002, professor emeritus, 2002—.


Association of American Geographers, American Historical Association, Pioneer America Society, National Trust for Historic Preservation.


(With wife, Cynthia A. Jakle) Ethnic and Racial Minorities in North America: A Selected Bibliography of the Geographical Literature, Council of Planning Librarians (Monticello, IL), 1973.

Past Landscapes: A Bibliography for Historic Preservationists Selected from the Literature of Historical Geography, Council of Planning Librarians (Monticello, IL), 1974, revised edition, Vance Bibliographies (Monticello, IL), 1980.

(Editor) Proceedings of the Association of American Geographers Association of American Geographers (Washington, DC), 1975.

(With Stanley Brunn and Curtis Roseman) Human Spatial Behavior: A Social Geography, Duxbury Press (North Scituate, MA), 1976.

Images of the Ohio Valley: An Historical Geography of Travel, 1740-1860, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

The American Small Town: Twentieth-Century Place Images, Archon Books (Hamden, CT), 1981.

The Tourist: Travel in Twentieth-Century America, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1985.

The Visual Elements of Landscape, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1987.

(With Robert Bastian and Douglas Meyer) Common Houses in America's Small Towns: The Atlantic Seaboard to the Mississippi Valley, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1989.

(With David Wilson) Derelict Landscapes: The Wasting of America's Built Environment, Rowman & Littlefield (Savage, MD), 1992.

(With Keith A. Sculle) The Gas Station in America, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1994.

(With Keith A. Sculle and Jefferson Rogers) The Motel in America, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1996.

(With Keith A. Sculle) Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1999.

City Lights: Illuminating the American Night, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2001.

Postcards of the Night: Views of American Cities, Museum of New Mexico Press (Santa Fe, NM), 2003.

(With Keith A. Sculle) Lots of Parking: Land Use in a Car Culture, University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, VA), 2004.

(With Keith A. Sculle) Signs in America's Auto Age: Signatures of Landscape and Place, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2004.

(With Keith A. Sculle) Motoring: The Highway Experience in America, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2008.

My Kind of Midwest, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2008.

Contributor to books, including Historic Preservation: Setting, Legislation, and Techniques, edited by Lachlan F. Blair and John A. Quinn, University of Illinois (Urbana, IL), 1977; The Making of the American Landscape, edited by Michael Conzen, Unwin Hyman (Boston, MA), 1990; Marginalized Places and Populations: A Structuralist Agenda, edited by David Wilson and James O. Huff, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1994; Geography and Technology, edited by Stanley D. Brunn, Susan L. Cutter, and J.W. Harrington, Kluwer (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 2004; and Grand Excursions on the Upper Mississippi River: Places, Landscapes, and Identity, University of Iowa Press, 2004. Contributor to history and geography journals, including Journal of Geography, Journal of Cultural Geography, Environmental Review, Agricultural History, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Material Culture, and American Historical Review.


John A. Jakle is a landscape historian whose focus rests on America's evolving built environments. Whether studying the fast food industry, the gas station, or the advent of motels, he is concerned with the functional and aesthetic aspects of traveler-based commodities. An interest in travel and tourism has sparked much of Jakle's scholarly work, as he examines America's changing landscapes in the twentieth century. According to Tom Hanchett in the Business History Review, Jakle's books meld "business history with architectural history, cultural geography, and social history."

Jakle and coauthor Keith A. Sculle have published several books about travel-based architecture, including The Gas Station in America, The Motel in America, and Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age. As the titles suggest, these works all contribute to scholarship on changes to the American landscape (and the American mindset) that have originated or blossomed since the advent of pervasive automobile travel. In a New York Times Book Review piece on The Gas Station in America, Thomas Hine observed: "Mr. Jakle and Mr. Sculle argue … that the gas station and the roadside are entitled to serious study, and that theirs is an attempt to go beyond the mere description that has characterized the field thus far. The Gas Station in America does advance that study. It provides important information and insights for those who will explain more fully the American landscape of consumption." In the Journal of Travel Research, Jonathan N. Goodrich called The Motel in America "a well-written and informative book about the origins, evolution, geographical distribution, changing social meanings, architecture designs, and marketing of motels." The critic added that the book "is fun to read. It also indirectly offers lessons in geography, history, business acumen, and sociology."

Jakle's Fast Food is a chronicle of the evolution of roadside restaurants that ties together "a nation's passion for eating with its love of the automobile," to quote Bruce Heydt in American History. New York Times Book Review correspondent Karal Ann Marling deemed Fast Food a "meticulously detailed study of the origins and growth of fast-food chains in the 20th century." The critic further noted that Fast Food "has enough incident, comedy and tragedy for any two novels…. To be perfectly honest, we have all had bad pie out there on the blue highways of nostalgia, along with regional specialties that challenge the recuperative powers of the average digestive tract. But enough nostalgia. Jakle and Sculle offer a refreshing draft of realism."

Jakle once told CA: "I bring the orientations of the geographer and the historian to bear on the concept of place. My interest in small towns as a distinctive part of the American experience, and my interest in tourism and the common landscapes created to serve tourists will lead, I hope, to the fuller comprehension of how and why people create and use places as setting for particular kinds of behavior.

"In recent decades, academic geographers have turned away from the concept of place as an integrating concept. They have neglected whole categories of place (including small towns) and have ignored the impulse to travel as a significant research subject. My work seeks to remedy this neglect. As I see it, the discipline of geography was originally rooted in a healthy concern for exploring places. Today's geographical exploration should treat common behaviors in common places. Place exploration should be the geographer's objective."



American Historical Review, June, 1996, Karal Ann Marling, review of The Gas Station in America, p. 937.

American History, February, 2000, Bruce Heydt, review of Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age, p. 67.

American Scholar, summer, 1986, Neil Harris, review of The Tourist: Travel in Twentieth-Century America, p. 429.

Business History Review, autumn, 1997, Tom Hanchett, review of The Motel in America, p. 488.

Entertainment Weekly, January 14, 2000, Nikki Amdur, review of Fast Food, p. 70.

Journal of American History, December, 1985, Warren Belasco, review of The Tourist, p. 717.

Journal of Travel Research, May, 1999, Jonathan N. Goodrich, review of The Motel in America, p. 411.

Journal of Urban History, November, 1998, Joseph C. Bigott, review of The Gas Station in America, p. 103.

New York Times Book Review, October 30, 1994, Thomas Hine, "University Presses; Gasoline Dreams," p. 36; January 9, 2000, Karal Ann Marling, "Sameness Is Glorious," p. 34.

Pacific Historical Review, February, 1998, Marguerite S. Shaffer, review of The Motel in America, p. 141.

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Jakle, John A. 1939- (John Allais Jakle)

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