The Sunday porch: Route 800

barnesville-oh-1974-documerica-u-s-national-archives“Residents of an older home,* built in the 1850’s, take advantage of the summer weather to sit on their front porch off Route #800.” Barnesville, Ohio, July 1974. Below, the back porch.

back-porch-barnesville-oh-1974-documerica-u-s-national-archives

Both photos above were taken by Erik Calonius for DOCUMERICA, an early photography program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are shown, with the original caption, via The U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.

From 1972 to 1977, the EPA hired over 100 photographers to “document subjects of environmental concern.” They created an archive of about 20,000 images.

In addition to recording damage to the nation’s landscapes, the project captured “the era’s trends, fashions, problems, and achievements,” according to the Archives, which held an exhibit of the photos, “Searching for the Seventies,” in 2013.

By 1974, the proliferation of porchless ranch-style houses, air-conditioning, and television had made sitting on a shady front porch in hot weather something of an anomaly for many Americans.


*A visitor to the first photo’s flickr page wrote, “This house stood on the north side of State Route 800, near Barnesville, at about 40.014772, -81.168533. The section pictured here may have been of log construction.”

Vintage landscape: Poca, WV

Vintage landscape/enclos*ure: Poca, W.V., 1973,, via Natl. Archives“Water cooling towers of the John Amos Power Plant* loom over Poca, [West Virginia], home that is on the other side of the Kanawha River. Two of the towers emit great clouds of steam.”

This photo† (shown here with original caption) was taken in August 1973 by Harry Schaefer for DOCUMERICA, a photography project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are more pictures from DOCUMERICA here.


*Three-unit coal-fired power plant.

†Via the U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.