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Best Vanishing Urban Design Motif: And best poor man's Googie 


Urban design freaks are going gaga for Googie (, the ultramodern 1950s and '60s school of architecture typified by "atomic" and amoeba shapes, floating sheet-glass windows, starbursts, upswept roofs, space needles, jutting steel beams, and the odd tiki. If you doubt that, try pricing a midcentury ranch house sometime. Southern California has most of the finest surviving examples of the style, but there are a few in the East Bay. At least Caspers, a local chain of nine hot dog stands, are housed in shingled trapezoidal astro-huts topped by telltale signs featuring levitating hot dogs and condiments — Googie Lite — like the one on San Pablo Avenue in Albany. Even if you don't opt for the Original Casper Dog or the Chili Cheese Dog (gastro alert!), you can admire the pastel-colored spinning counter stools. Catch these beauties while you can.

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