To call Phil Patton’s journalistic oeuvre “diverse” was to understate the matter. Although best known for his articles on design and, late in life, automobiles, his topics ranged from literature and music at the Harvard Crimson to American (especially Southern) culture, art, military hardware, UFOs and government secrecy, roadside attractions and beyond. The only constants seem to be his humor, accessibility, and joy of discovery.
As beautiful long-form magazines shuttered, many of his early, non-digitized articles became hard to find, but almost all his early articles reside with his papers in the Milton Glaser Archives at the School for Visual Arts. Some of his best work, chosen by colleagues and editors, were excerpted in Top This and Other Parables of Design: Selected Writings by Phil Patton, published by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and still available in its store.
In addition to the Crimson’s archives, The New York Times archived many of his articles, including his Public Eye and Wheels columns as well as contributions to the magazine. Decades of his work have been digitized by Esquire, and contributions to American Heritage are available in digital format, too.
Cataloging all his articles may be nigh-on impossible, but we’ve started here with a few, most of them necessarily but reluctantly excerpted and sorted by topic. We will add to these in the weeks ahead so be sure to stop by for updates.
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