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12 Unusual Drive-Through Services

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While drive-through windows are often found attached to fast food restaurants and banks, sometimes unlikely businesses also tempt customers with the convenience of staying in your car. Here are 12 of them.

1. A LITTLE WHITE WEDDING CHAPEL // LAS VEGAS

With wedding packages starting at $75 (plus the cost of a marriage license), A Little White Wedding Chapel is mostly known for its “Tunnel of Love Drive-Thru.” Since 1951, the Las Vegas chapel has been the prime site for “quickie” weddings, including the ones of notable celebrities such as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, and Britney Spears and Jason Allen Alexander. They even have an on-site Elvis Presley impersonator, just in case you need “a hunk, a hunk of burnin’ love!”

2. ROBERT L. ADAMS MORTUARY DRIVE-THRU // COMPTON, CALIFORNIA

Established in 1974, the Robert L. Adams Mortuary Drive-Thru in Compton, California aims to “bring the business of death and a convenience of the living” together. The funeral home offers drive-through viewings of the recently deceased behind bullet-proof glass.

"You can come by after work, you don't need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects," owner Peggy Scott Adams told The Los Angeles Times. "It's a convenience thing."

3. SMARTMART // MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

 

Smartmart is a gas station and automated drive-through convenience store in Memphis, Tennessee. Customers drive up to one of the store’s four ATM-like touchscreen display kiosks to select the items they’d like to buy. Once purchased, a series of conveyor belts and computer-operated dispensers go to work to search and assemble your order, as it spits out your items underneath the kiosk itself.

4. DAIQUIRI BAY CAFE // METAIRIE, LOUISIANA

Believe it or not, there’s a bar in New Orleans that serves alcoholic beverages from a drive-through window. The Daiquiri Bay Cafe (DBC Bar & Grill) is a unique drinking experience in Louisiana. Due to the very loose open container laws in New Orleans, you can drive up to a service window and buy a strawberry daiquiri as long as it’s served in a closed container without a straw inside.

5. CHRISTIAN LIFE CENTER // FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

If you’re driving down West Commercial Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale and have a sudden need to find solace and meaning in life, then pull into the Christian Life Center’s “Divine Drive-Thru.” Every Friday, the church’s prayer team joins motorists behind the wheel in a prayer to God.

“We want to be able to minister to our community here in Broward County,” Pastor Sol Levy told 7 News Miami. “And what better way would there be than to catch people driving home from work?”

6. CHANDELIER DRIVE-THRU TREE // LEGGETT, CALIFORNIA

Ramakrishna Gundra via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

It's more of an attraction than a service, but in 1937, the Underwood Family added the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree to attract more people to their grove in Leggett, California (about 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay area). Over the decades, the site has become a popular tourist site, as most cars and motorcycles can fit through the nearly 7-foot high drive-through inside of the 276-foot coast redwood tree.

7. KOCIAN LAW FIRM // MANCHESTER, CONNECTICUT

The offices of the Kocian Law Firm’s Manchester, Connecticut branch used to be the location of a Kenny Rogers Roasters fast food chicken restaurant. Instead of remodeling the building, the firm’s lawyers decided to keep the drive-through window and use it to offer their clients convenient law services.

"We represent a lot of injured people," said attorney Nick Kocian to NBC Connecticut. "If you have somebody who's in a wheelchair or somebody who's hurt, it's convenient."

8. SIMCOE DRIVE THRU ART GALLERY // SIMCOE, ONTARIO

The Downtown Simcoe Drive Thru Art Gallery is an annual community art show in the heart of the small town of Simcoe, Ontario. People can simply drive down Peel Street to view murals, banners, and paintings created by fellow townspeople. Each piece is placed along town streets and free to view.

9. FARM STORES // VARIOUS LOCATIONS IN FLORIDA

Since 1957, Farm Stores has been an all-in-one grocery store, bakery, and restaurant serving fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk to their customers. With dozens of locations throughout the state of Florida, Farm Stores is an easy way to go shopping. Just pull into one of two drive-through lanes and tell the attendant what you want and they’ll fulfill your order. All without leaving your car.

10. DRIVE-THRU VOTING BOOTHS // MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA

In Martinez, California, the Contra Costa County Clerk of Elections Department set up a drive-thru voting booth so citizens could simply drop off their ballots instead of finding a parking space, walking into the building, and waiting in line to vote.

"We have a lot of foot traffic that traditionally comes into the office, clogs the parking lot, clogs other business going on in the office," Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott Konopasek told ABC 7 News in the Bay Area.

11. WESTERVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY // WESTERVILLE, OHIO

 
The Westerville Public Library has been an institution in Westerville, Ohio since it first opened in 1930. And to make things easier for their patrons, the Westerville Public Library opened a drive-thru window in 1999. Now the people of Westerville can reserve items online and pick them up without leaving their cars.

12. SAYRE WOODS BIBLE CHURCH // OLD BRIDGE, NEW JERSEY

Every Christmas, members of Sayre Woods Bible Church in Old Bridge, New Jersey put on "A Drive Through the Christmas Story," a live-action re-creation of the birth of Jesus Christ told through 10 vignettes. Drivers are given a CD that includes holiday music and narration, which they can play as they drive through the elaborate Nativity scene. It’s free, open to the public, and runs through the majority of the holiday season.

"A Drive Through the Christmas Story is an outdoor display of 10 life-size Bible scenes depicting the events concerning the birth of the Savior," RoxAnne Tauriello, the creator of the drive-thru, told USA Today. "What you'll see are live characters in New Testament wardrobe, live animals, special backdrops in open buildings that will house the characters with special props and lighting, and you will hear holiday music and the related scripture verses to the Christmas story as you go on a guided tour all within the convenience of your own car."

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Ramones Karaoke, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
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Fake It Until You Make It: 10 Artificial Ruins
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Ramones Karaoke, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The love of ruins, sometimes called ruinophilia, has for centuries inspired the creation of clever fakes—a host of sham facades and hollowed-out castle shells found on grand English, European, and even American estates. The popularity of constructing artificial ruins was at its peak during the 18th and 19th centuries, but architects occasionally still incorporate them today.

Why build a structure that is already crumbling? Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the popularity of counterfeit ruins was influenced by two factors—a classical education that enforced the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome, and the extended tour of Europe (known as The Grand Tour) that well-to-do young men and women took after completing their education. Travelers might start in London or France and roam as far as the Middle East, but the trip almost always included Italy and a chance to admire Roman ruins. More than a few wealthy travelers returned home longing to duplicate those ruins, either to complement a romantic landscape, to demonstrate wealth, or to provide a pretense of family history for the newly rich.

Here are a few romantic ruins constructed between the 18th and 21st centuries.

1. SHAM CASTLE // BATHAMPTON, ENGLAND

Sham Castle (shown above) is aptly named—it’s only a façade. The "castle," overlooking the English city of Bath, was created in 1762 to improve the view for Ralph Allen, a local entrepreneur and philanthropist as well as to provide jobs for local stonemasons. From a distance it looks like a castle ruin, but it's merely a wall that has two three-story circular turrets and a two-story square tower at either end. The castle is not the only folly (as such purely decorative architecture is often called) that Allen built. He also constructed a sham bridge on Serpentine Lake in what is now Prior Park Landscape Garden—the bridge can't be crossed, but provides a nice focal point for the lake. Today, Sham Castle is part of a private golf course.

2. WIMPOLE FOLLY // CAMBRIDGESHIRE, ENGLAND

Building a structure that looks as if it's crumbling does not preclude having to perform regular maintenance. The four-story Gothic tower known as Wimpole Folly in Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, England, was built 1768-72 for Philip Yorke, first Earl of Hardwicke and owner of the Wimpole Estate. Owned by Britain’s National Trust, the ruin threatened to truly crumble a few years ago, so restoration efforts were needed. The last restoration was so well done it won the 2016 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage. The Wimpole Estate is now open to the public for walks and hikes.

3. CAPEL MANOR FOLLY // ENFIELD, ENGLAND

Capel Manor at Bulls Cross, Enfield, England has been the site of several grand homes since the estate’s first recorded mention in the 13th century, so visitors might be tempted to believe that the manor house's ruins date back at least a few centuries. But that sense of history is an illusion: The faux 15th-century house was built in 2010 to add visual appeal to the manor gardens, which have been open to the public since the 1920s.

4. ROMAN RUIN // SCHONBRUNN PALACE, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The Roman Ruin was built as a garden ornament for the 1441-room Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, one of the most important monuments in Austria. The ruin was once called The Ruins of Carthage, after the ancient North African city defeated by Roman military force. But despite the illusion of antiquity, the ruins were created almost 2000 years after Carthage fell in 146 B.C.E. The ruin’s rectangular pool, framed by an intricate semi-circle arch, was designed in 1778 by the architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg, who modeled it on the Ancient Roman temple of Vespasian and Titus, which he had seen an engraving of.

5. THE RUINEBERG // POTSDAM, GERMANY

One of the earliest examples of artificial ruins in Germany was the complex of structures known as The Ruinenberg. Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, had a summer palace in Potsdam, near Berlin, that was said to rival Versailles. In 1748 Frederick commissioned a large fountain for the palace complete with artificial ruins. The waterworks part of his plan proved too difficult and was soon abandoned, but not before designer Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff constructed the ruins. The complex includes Roman pillars, a round temple, and the wall of a Roman theatre. Since 1927 the site has belonged to the Prussian Gardens and Palaces Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg.

6. PARC MONCEAU // PARIS, FRANCE

Elegant Parc Monceau is located in the fashionable 8th arrondissement of Paris near the Champs-Elysees and Palais de l’Elysée. In 1778, the Duke of Chartres decided to build a mansion on land previously used for hunting. He loved English architecture and gardens, including the notion of nostalgic ruins, so he hired the architect Louis Carrogis Carmontelle to create an extravagant park complete with a Roman temple, antique statues, a Chinese bridge, a farmhouse, a Dutch windmill, a minaret, a small Egyptian pyramid, and some fake gravestones. The most notable feature of the park is a pond surrounded by Corinthian columns, now known as Colonnade de Carmontelle.

7. HAGLEY PARK CASTLE // WORCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND

The ruins of the medieval castle at Hagley Park in Worcestershire are definitely fake, but they were built with debris from the real ruin of a neighboring abbey. The folly was commissioned by Sir George Lyttelton in 1747 and designed by Sanderson Miller, an English pioneer of Gothic revival architecture. The castle has a round tower at each corner, but by design only one is complete and decorated inside with a coat of arms. The grounds, which also feature a temple portico inspired by an ancient Greek temple, some urns, and obelisks, are now privately owned and not open to the public.

8. TATA CASTLE RUINS // TATA, HUNGARY

French architect Charles de Moreau (1758-1841) was a scholar of classical Roman architecture known for his ability to counterfeit impressive ruins. Nicholas I, Prince Esterhazy of Hungary, hired him to work on Tata Castle and to create the ruins of a Romanesque church for the palace’s English Garden. Even though the ruin Moreau created was fake, he built it with the stones of a real ruin, the remnants of the early-12th-century Benedictine and later Dominican abbey of Vértesszőlős. A third-century ancient Roman tombstone and relief were placed nearby.

9. BELVEDERE CASTLE // MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park in the mid-1800s, and their plan for creating romantic vistas included the construction of a folly known as Belvedere Castle. The Gothic-Romanesque style hybrid, overlooking Central Park’s Great Lawn, was completed in 1869. Although the folly was designed as a hollow shell and meant to be a ruin, it eventually served a practical purpose, housing a weather bureau and exhibit space. The castle also provides a beautiful backdrop for Shakespeare in the Park productions, evoking the royal homes that play prominent roles in the Bard’s works.

10. FOLLY WALL IN BARKING TOWN SQUARE // LONDON

In a borough known for its real historic buildings, the ancient wall found in London’s Barking Town Square might look centuries old. It’s not, and ironically, the wall is part of the square’s renovation efforts. The wall was built by bricklaying students at Barking College using old bricks and crumbling stone items found at salvage yards. Known as the "Secret Garden," named after the children’s book about a walled garden, the wall was designed to screen a nearby supermarket and was unveiled in 2007.

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Theo Rindos
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Graphic Designer Visualizes America's Major Rivers as Subway Routes
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Theo Rindos

Mark Twain spent his early years navigating America's winding waterways, but the steamboat pilot-turned-author was also a fan of modern transportation: He was one of the first passengers to ride the London Underground's longest tube line—the Central Line—when it first opened in 1900. Needless to say, Twain would probably be a fan of the map below, which visualizes U.S. rivers as subway lines.

A map depicting U.S. rivers as subway routes, by graphic designer Theo Rindos
Theo Rindos
 
 
A map depicting U.S. rivers as subway routes, by graphic designer Theo Rindos
Theo Rindos

Created by graphic designer Theo Rindos (and spotted by CityLab), the map is inspired by Harry Beck's original London Tube map from the 1930s. It's based on data culled from the U.S. Geological Survey, Google Maps, and Wikipedia.

"I have always been fascinated by transit maps and river systems, and I thought, 'Why not put them together?'" Rindos tells Mental Floss. Beck's design style "has been kind of a staple for many city transit systems because it's so easy to understand and is so beautiful. The rivers of the United States are complex, and I wanted to see if I could achieve a similar outcome."

The source of each river is denoted with a solid-colored circle. White circles indicate where these waterways converge and split, and neighboring cities and towns are marked as "stations." That said, the map doesn't feature every single U.S. river: It includes ones important to the transportation and shipping sectors, but for aesthetic reasons, Rindos opted to leave out awkwardly shaped rivers and turned smaller ones into bus routes.

You can view a mock-up of Rindos' map below (hard copies aren’t ready for sale quite yet), or visit the designer's website to learn more about his work.

[h/t CityLab]

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