Art Tour Stop 25: Roadside Architecture

Art Tour Stop 25: Roadside Architecture

Art Tour Stop 25: Roadside Architecture 

Elaine Kessler 

“Roadside architecture consists of structures built to serve the motoring public. Generally associated with twentieth-century road development, the main types of roadscape resources are restaurants, automobile showrooms, recreation and amusement facilities, stores, specialized buildings and artifacts, overnight accommodations, and gas stations.”
Downtown Gilbert has its very own piece of roadside architecture. Created by well-known entrepreneur Joe Johnston, Topo is a gopher-shaped food stall serving burritos, street corn and soft serve ice cream. Topo is a 7-foot-tall rodent made of Styrofoam and steel that sits on top of a small box shaped building.
According to writer Lauren Saria, “Topo appeals to a sense of nostalgia. Johnston envisions it as a modern roadside attraction, the kind that became popular during the early and mid-1900s as Americans began crisscrossing the country by car.”

Find Stop 25, Topo, at 301 N Gilbert Rd bldg 2, Gilbert, AZ 85234.


Kessler, Elaine. “Downtown Gilbert Features.” Elaine Kessler Photography. 2020.


Sharp, Leslie N. “Roadside Architecture.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 3 September 2019. Web. 30 June 2020.


Saria, Lauren. “What you need to know about Joe Johnston’s ‘weird’ new restaurant in Gilbert.” The Republic | 13 March 2019.




Wishart, David J. “Roadside Architecture.” Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. 2011.

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