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Anything but random April 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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The Random Players play a rocked-up medley of Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ and Alan Jackson’s “Mercury Blues” during a gig in Germany.

I approve.

State of the road in Illinois April 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Road trips.
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Using the upcoming Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Weekend as a jumping-off point, the Bloomington Pantagraph takes a look at the current state of the Mother Road in the Land of Lincoln.

And despite current problems like a faltering economy and high fuel prices, the future of Route 66 looks bright.

“International travelers come from 40 something countries during peak traveling season,” said Ellie Alexander, head of the Pontiac Tourism Bureau and an organizer of the Second Annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival May 3-4. “We get countries I’ve never heard of. Oh, wow, it’s always amazing to me because they know more about Route 66 than most Americans do.”

“It is really romanticized pretty heavily in Europe because it’s seen as the American dream,” added Patty Ambrose, executive director of the Historic Illinois Route 66 America’s Byway.

About 300,000 visitors visited the Illinois portion of Route 66 in 2005, the last year an estimate was made, she said.

“It’s only grown (since then.) We are seeing increased visits. … Promotion is stronger,” she said.

The weak American dollar is attracting more foreign visitors, too, travel officials say.

Illinois tourism officials want Old Route 66 outlined on the map in even bolder colors, right up there with Lincoln. Lonely Planet, which publishes travel books, listed Route 66 as one of its top 10 driving destinations. The highway was the only one listed in the United States. [...]

Ambrose said a grant is in the works for an interpretive plan to evaluate what remains of Route 66 and sites along the way to determine what can be saved and what is needed with regards to interpretive centers and signage to help travelers. Plans call for a Route 66 Bike Trail.

“I think we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “I feel Route 66 will explode again. …We will see the mom and pop businesses come back and give an economic boost to these communities. I don’t think that’s pie in the sky. I think we will see that happen.”

Foreign travelers have been a crucial component to keeping Route 66 alive, and they will continue to be so.

‘American Idol’ contestant to perform at Berdoo Bikes fest April 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Motorcycles, Music, Towns.
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Amanda Overmyer, a recently deposed contestant on this season’s “American Idol,” will perform a show during the inaugural Berdoo Bikes & Blues Festival in San Bernardino, Calif., according to a news release today.

Opening ceremonies will include her version of the Star Spangled Banner on Friday, May 2, on the Time Warner “D” Street stage and at 6 p.m. Saturday she will be available for photo opportunities, autographs and visiting with attendees. [...]

… Deemed “a nurse that rocks,” Amanda is fueled by another passion, riding her Harley Davidson.

“She is perfect for our Berdoo Bikes & Blues Rendezvous and is excited about appearing,” says Wayne Austin, president and CEO of the San Bernardino Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Her sound is very unique, a combination of blues and rock, a style that has been compared to Janis Joplin. She loves to ride her Harley Davidson, and she’s a nurse.”

Overmyer says her musical influences include Creedence Clearwater Revival, Guns ‘n Roses and Bob Seger. Yep, she’s perfect for a motorcycle festival.

Her Web site is here.

The Berdoo Bikes festival is an offshoot of the city’s massively popular Route 66 Rendezvous for custom and classic cars.

In other festival news, the Joliet Herald-News has a preview story about this coming weekend’s Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival, where a dozen Mother Road towns in a 90-mile stretch from Joliet to Towanda are participating with sidewalk sales, car shows, poker runs, live entertainment, games and a lot more.

Building in Chicago named to National Register April 27, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, History, Preservation, Uncategorized.
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This is going to be obscure except for the most rabid of Route 66 enthusiasts in the Windy City. But it was announced a couple of days ago that the International Tailoring Company Building at 847 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s also known as the White Tower Building.

Jackson Boulevard is an eastbound-only street that’s an alignment of Route 66. I figured David Clark’s book, “Exploring Route 66 in Chicagoland,” would have something about it. It did, on Page 9:

The School of the Art Institute uses the building on the south side of the block for gallery space. Public art shows are staged here periodically. Originally known as the White Tower Building, it is being converted into residential use as “The Tailor on Jackson” as of spring 2005. Here’s hoping they renovate the Clock Tower, which as been sheathed in ugly corrugated metal for many years.

The Art Institute’s gallery there is known as Gallery 2.

The building is at the southeast corner Jackson and Peoria Street (map here). A Google Streets image shows the White Tower Building here (pay no mind to the listing of 876 W. Jackson Blvd.; that is inaccurate). The letters “White Tower” can be clearly seen on the building’s windows above the doorway.

Another image of the building can be seen here.

Lake Overholser Bridge April 26, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Preservation, Road trips.
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I can’t tell whether this video is from someone hanging a camera out the car window or attaching it to a bicycle. But this is footage of someone crossing the Lake Overholser Bridge.

It was built west of Oklahoma City in 1924, predating Route 66. But it became a prominent alignment of the Mother Road.

If you want to check it out for yourself, this map link shows you where it is.

Two roadside attraction designations added in Lincoln April 26, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Uncategorized.
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The Mill restaurant and the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site in Lincoln, Ill., saw “Route 66 Roadside Attraction” signs erected at those sites this week, reported the Bloomington Pantagraph.

A small ceremony was held at each landmark as Ladd christened the new signs with an official bottle of Route 66 Root Beer. He was joined by volunteers John and Lenore Weiss, John Sutton and Shirley Bartelmay, coordinator for the Postville site. [...]

Currently, there are 25 locations on Route 66 in Illinois that are listed as official roadside attractions.

Here’s another story about the new sign placements, by the Lincoln Courier.

Illinois Route 66 Association volunteers placed the signs. The effort also is an outshoot from the Hampton Inn Route 66 Caravan in 2003, in which dozens of “Roadside Attraction” signs were placed.

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