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Breezewood, Pennsylvania refers to a photo taken by Edward Burtynsky in 2008 of Exit 161 (formerly Exit 12) on I-70 in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. The photo shows Breezewood's highly concentrated mass of well-known brands, such as McDonald's, Exxon, Pizza Hut and others. The photo and the town itself has been associated with several image macros and critiques in recent years, often with commentary about the supposed lack of American culture or the effects of unfettered capitalism.
Burtynsky took the photo of Breezewood in 2008, and the photo was printed in 2009 (shown below). One of the earliest known reposts of the image that used it as a commentary on America was by an anonymous Imgur user, who on February 11th, 2012, titled the photo "Welcome to America."
Breezewood had become a place of fascination for journalists in the mid-2010s. On February 6th, 2017, The New York Times published a piece about the town, calling it a "notorious choke point" and "a vivid case study in governance over such projects. It shows how legal quirks, powerful politicians and opaque bureaucratic procedures can influence decisions about how to spend taxpayer dollars." It also noted how a road to bypass Breezewood is unlikely to be implemented, as it would need to be proposed by Breezewood's Bedford County, and Breezewood is an economic boon for the town.
The mid-2010s also saw increasing use of memes regarding Breezewood. On April 16th, 2018, Twitter user @BombermanHero posted Butynsky's picture, writing, "This is one of my favorite photography pics taken mainly because if youve never been to the US then this is how it looks alot of the time," gaining over 11,000 retweets and 46,000 likes (shown below, left). On June 6th, 2019, user @ALLCAPSBRO tweeted a What If We Kissed joke about Breezewood, gaining over 140 retweets and 600 likes (shown below, right).
The popularity of memes related to Bridgewood led Bloomberg's CityLab to publish a piece on the town's popularity on the internet. The article noted that most memes seem to say that Breezewood looks like it could be anywhere in America, but the circumstances surrounding Breezewood make it unique in America. Burtynsky reposted the article on his website.
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