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East Route 66 gateway in Tulsa nearly done October 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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The City of Tulsa began construction of its Route 66 gateway on the east side of the city earlier in the month.

Fewer than 10 days later, city planner Dennis Whitaker sent along these photos.

And longtime Route 66 afiscionado Brad Nickson put together this video of a drive-by of the gateway.

Tulsa Route 66 Gateway from Brad Nickson on Vimeo.

The east gateway is on on the north side of 11th Street (aka Route 66), just east of Interstate 44.

Crews now will start on the west gateway on Southwest Boulevard (aka Route 66) across from the Crystal City shopping center. That will require about a week of work.

Those are among the last Route 66 projects of Vision 2025 sales tax, approved in 2003. The last item will by the Route 66 Experience museum at the banks of the Arkansas River. The museum is planned as a public-private effort by the city and the Route 66 Alliance. The alliance will have to raise millions of dollars to cover its portion of the construction.

Stories sought about certain Albuquerque businesses October 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, History, Signs, Towns.
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Two authors are seeking stories about several long-gone businesses along Route 66 in Albuquerque that used Zeon Corporation-designed signs to attract customers, according to a story in the Albuquerque Journal.

University of New Mexico professors Ellen Babcock and Mark C. Childs are working on a book titled “The Zeon Files” that will be published UNM Press late next year.

Zeon Corp. also was known as Electrical Products of New Mexico, and drawings from that company will be included in the book.

The Journal reported:

“We have about 70 pieces of work that we’re finding the stories behind,” Babcock said. “This was an amazing time for sign productions and a lot of the businesses would up the ante with their eye-catching designs.” [...]

Babcock said that, in the early 1970s, the city moved in a different direction and changed the ordinance for sign heights.

“It kind of squashed the exuberance of it all,” she said. “But looking at the drawings, you can see all the hard work and detail that went into each sign.” [...]

“We’re hoping to draw the people out and get a conversation started about the signs,” she said. “It was an interesting time to drive down Central and see all of these signs. Now they are gone and we want to preserve the stories.”

Among the businesses the duo needs stories from are Star Florist, Roadrunner Coffee Shop, Bimbo’s Drive Inn, Paris Shoe Shop and Eddie’s Inferno Cocktail Lounge.

Several examples of the Zeon Corp.’s blueprints for the signs can be seen here.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque also had a story:

Childs can be contacted through mchilds(at)unm(dot)edu and Babcock at ebabcock(at)unm(dot)edu.

(Excerpted Zeon Corp. drawing of Eddie’s Inferno Cocktail Lounge sign via Friends of the Orphan Signs)

A semblance of the Route 66 Rendezvous October 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns, Vehicles.
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This video by AmericaJR.com at the recently completed Rendezvous Back to Route 66 car show at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, California, is illuminating.

In short, this year’s event — presented by the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce — is an effort to keep a smaller version of the Route 66 Rendezvous alive. The original Rendezvous once drew more than 600,000 people on a typical weekend, but it was canceled after the 2012 show in the wake of the City of San Bernardino’s bankruptcy and the gutting of the San Bernardino Convention and Tourism Bureau.

One takeaway from the video is attendees are itching to take their classic cars back to San Bernardino’s streets — and Route 66. But chamber president Judi Penman made it pretty clear that’s not going to happen soon for a variety of reasons.

In the wake of the Rendezvous’ cancellation, the nearby city of Ontario, California, has hosted the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion. However, Ontario never was on Route 66, and the event sits a good distance away from the Mother Road. So appropriating the Route 66 name seems, at the least, disingenuous.

(Image from the 2012 Route 66 Rendezvous by Thom Trafford via Flickr)

Route 66 gateways in Tulsa begin construction October 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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By the end of October, Tulsa should have its Route 66 gateways on the east and west sides of the city completed, according to a news release.

Here are more artist’s renderings of the gateways:

Contractors started work Thursday on the east gateway on the north side of 11th Street, just east of Interstate 44. It should be done in about a week.

After that, crews will start on the west gateway on Southwest Boulevard across from the Crystal City shopping center. That, too, will take about a week of work.

Here’s a short video from a local TV station about the construction:

More details about the gateways, via city planner Dennis Whitaker:

Constructed of steel covered with aluminum, the gateways will be nearly 39 feet high and more than 48 feet wide, with an LED Route 66 shield and upward illumination at night. As visitors enter Tulsa, they will drive under the gateway. When visitors leave the city, they will see on the other side of the road an 8-foot-by-11-foot zigzag art deco structure with a Tulsa Route 66 shield, thanking them for visiting Tulsa.

“The design of the gateways combines elements of architectural significance from the art deco era, creating a notable iconic feature for heritage tourism in Tulsa,” said Dennis Whitaker, City of Tulsa planner for the Vision 2025 Route 66 projects. “The three main obelisks are the zigzag art deco style prominent in many urban areas and particularly in Tulsa. In addition, a sweeping streamline art deco feature extends from behind the curb line to the center line of the street, reminiscent of not only the streamline art deco era, but also the classic automobile styling of the 1950s.”

Whitaker continued, “The matching gateways will create a picture frame at the east and west sides of the city where the rural areas began to transition into the developed areas of Tulsa during the Route 66 era: 1926-1973.”

Total cost for this project is $930,000, including design by Dewberry and fabrication and installation by Claude Neon Federal Signs. The funding source is the Vision 2025 Tulsa County sales tax.

Those are among the last Route 66 projects of Vision 2025. The last piece of the puzzle will by the Route 66 Experience museum at the banks of the Arkansas River. As proposed, it would be a public-private effort by the city and the Route 66 Alliance. The alliance will have to raise millions of dollars to cover its part of the construction.

(Artist’s renderings of the Route 66 gateways via City of Tulsa)

Voices of Tulsa October 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Movies, Towns.
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“Route 66: The Mother Road” author and Route 66 Alliance co-founder alerted me to this new video made for the Tulsa Historical Society.

Voices of History from Kirkpatrick&Kinslow Productions on Vimeo.

An explanation of the video by its creator, Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions:

“Voices of History” is a branding film from Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions, developed for the Tulsa Historical Society. The film showcases a 3rd grade curriculum created & implemented by the organization. The film also profiles pivotal points in Tulsa’s history, set against the backdrop of Tulsa’s historic Council Oak Tree.

To help tell the story, Producer Russ Kirkpatrick worked closely with THS Executive Director Michelle Place and writers Bond Love and Michael Wallis to create messaging that was beautifully put to film by Director Bunee Tomlinson & Director of Photography Sam Calvin.

The branding project is the first of two films being produced by Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions with the Tulsa Historical Society. The second is an untitled feature length documentary, produced for a national TV audience, that will answer the important question of why history is important.

The feature-length film is a good idea. I was thinking for some time — especially while reading a new book about Cyrus Avery — that Tulsa’s history especially would make for a very good Ken Burns-type documentary.

Route 66 in Mojave may be closed for months October 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Highways, Towns, Weather.
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can't get there from here. 2014.

Severe seasonal flooding closed a section of old Route 66 between Essex and Ludlow in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, and it may be weeks or even months before it reopens, according to one news source in the area.

Zachnews, based in Needles, California, reports more than 40 bridges and some of the Route 66 roadbed between Goffs and Ludlow were damaged by raging floodwaters after monsoon rains about Sept. 7.

Most of the time, these desert roads are closed a few days until bulldozers move debris out of the way, which is why I didn’t think much about it when the closure occurred. But Tuesday, Zachnews made it clear the situation is much more than temporary:

Several residents of Needles, California who recently traveled from Twentynine Palms, California and Goffs, California tell ZachNews that portions of Route 66 still remain closed and had to use other roads to get around the closures.

The storm damage includes damage of the highway’s asphalt and some bridges have had their flow abutments washed out and are in need of new timber for support and flow alignment.

The hardest hit by the road closures because of storm damage to the Route 66 was reportedly is to Amboy, California which has been working hard to build up and bring in tourists over drive along the historic and world famous highway.

When repaired and reopened, portions of Route 66 from Ludlow, California to Amboy, California will have signs posted with a maximum vehicle weight of only 3-tons.

Personal vehicles will be allow to travel on Route 66, but will restricts Class C and larger Class A recreational vehicles and buses from driving on those marked portions of Route 66.

Zachnews also reported that according to the California Department of Transportation, Route 66 from Cadiz to Mountain Springs Road near Goffs is expected to stay closed for at least 2 months. Indeed, a bulletin from San Bernardino County says there is “no anticipated time for reopening,” which is unusual.

About the only good thing from this is the flooding occurred after the peak of tourism season. The Route 66 hamlet of Amboy, California, which is home to the much-photographed and visited Roy’s gas station and convenience store, remains accessible through Kelbaker Road from Interstate 40. Except for that one route, Amboy is essentially cut off.

(Image of a closed Route 66 east of Barstow, California, in Sept. 9 by eyetwist via Flickr)

Part of downtown East St. Louis added to National Register September 27, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Towns.
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The Downtown East St. Louis Historic District in East St. Louis, Illinois, was added to the National Register of Historic Places effective Sept. 17, according to an email a few days ago from the National Park Service.

The district comprises of two blocks of Collinsville Avenue, a block and a half of Missouri Avenue and the south side of one block of St. Louis Avenue. Missouri Avenue served as Route 66 in the city during the 1950s, when the highway was rerouted to the 1951 Veterans Bridge, now known as the Martin Luther King Bridge, that connects St. Louis. And Collinsville Avenue was part of old U.S. 40, aka the National Road.

According to the nomination papers, the district has 35 buildings, and 25 are “contributing resources,” or historic. Two properties — the Spivey Building and Majestic Theatre — already were on the National Register. Many buildings in particular on Collinsville Avenue date from 1900 to the mid-1930s.

St. Louis Public Radio earlier in the month posted a story about the district’s imminent inclusion to the National Register. It talked to Michael Allen, director of the Preservation Research Office, which the city hired to map out the historic district:

City leaders became interested in preserving the buildings when the Illinois legislature created a special historic tax credit for river edge cities of up to 25 percent of redevelopment costs, Allen said. That state tax credit could also be paired with a federal historic tax credit.

Allen said city leaders hoped the tax credits could be used to revitalize East St. Louis. Once the region’s second major downtown area, the city was eclipsed by development in other areas, including Clayton.

“Almost all of downtown has been torn down. … It’s surrounded sadly by nothing,” Allen said. “But this little area is cohesive, coherent and full of a great sense of history… It has all the bones needed for economic revitalization. It’s really remarkably intact.”

Because the tax credits expire in 2016, Allen and the city already are pitching the district to developers.

Allen hopes that effort comes in the form of a “building-by-building, slow and careful redevelopment” in the same vein as done in certain St. Louis neighborhoods, such as the Central West End and Grand Center.

“Neighborhoods started out with vacant buildings and one or two key developers taking on key projects, attracting another developer next door,” he said. “This approach while incremental is really what’s been missing in East St. Louis.”

East St. Louis has seen a flurry of activity in recent months with the National Register. The Melvin Price Federal Building and courthouse was added in August, and the Union Trust Bank Co. building in May.

(Image of downtown East St. Louis by Sean Marshall via Flickr)

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