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  • Why does Route 66 matter?

  • Hi. My name is Jean and I'm from France.

  • And last year I went on a trip in the West Coast, and

  • we passed by Route 66.”

  • Our trip was from LA to Chicago all the

  • way, taking the mother road, haha.” “We would stop at all the museums on the

  • way, we stopped at the one in Elk City, Oklahoma and we stood on top of the train.”

  • “I'm Fabian from Germany. Last year, I was visiting my family in California.

  • While driving on Route 66, I had to stop to take photos of the beautiful sunset.”

  • The plan of the trip is to have no plan at all.”

  • My husband and I went back and even visited Route 66 and Williams for our honeymoon.”

  • Hey.”

  • Why is Route 66 not only famous, but internationally

  • famous? “Starting off Route 66.”

  • The road starts in Chicago, slides down the country,

  • and ends up all the way in Santa Monica.

  • Convert that distance to time and you get

  • a different story. In 1926, the road was commissioned.

  • By 1957, the Interstate Highway System began, and it bypassed the route by 1970. In 1985,

  • Route 66 was fully decommissioned. Route 66 has been in the shadows twice as

  • long as it was in the spotlight. But there's still this energy around it.

  • I talked to Ron Warnick, he's the editor of Route 66 News, which is an obsessive Route

  • 66 site, and his articles just came alive with people reminiscing about Route 66.

  • It was about Oklahoma Joes. It was this dive bar in Albuquerque near the University

  • of New Mexico campus. I put it out there, and pretty soon, all sorts of people were

  • exchanging their memories about the bar.”

  • This road has three distinct eras.

  • It's got secrets, and surprises, and even a future.

  • The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo has

  • a challenge: eat 72 ounces of steak and sides, in under an hour, and you get it for free.

  • I am going to switch to phone mode here. Alright. Before you get to a cardiac arrest-threatening challenge

  • like this, you actually have to go back more than a hundred years.

  • Before Federal highways, networks of largely privately owned auto trails, like the ones

  • on this 1920 Rand McNally map, were standard. Look at the chaotic number of options in the

  • legend. As Federal highway funding laws were passed

  • in the 1910s and 1920s, new maps planned a linked highway system, like this one drafted

  • by World War I General John Pershing. This telegram from April 30, 1926, from Springfield,

  • Missouri established Route 66 (they initially wanted the nice round number of Route 60,

  • but settled for 66). Cyrus Avery is called thefather of Route

  • 66” for helping create the highway to promote his home of Tulsa and creating the U.S. Highway

  • 66 Association the next year. That connection from Chicago to Santa Monica

  • was always a weird shape, and less intuitive than a transcontinental road. But it had lobbying

  • interest behind it and a good starting point with existing roads.

  • Texaco rated road conditions in maps like this 1934 one. As the legend shows, Route

  • 66 was just a graded road in parts, basically flattened dirt. Look at the journey from Amarillo

  • to Glenrio. There's still parts of Route 66 that look like this today. But they finished

  • paving the whole thing in 1937. To get all that work started in the 1920s,

  • the Route 66 association pushed stunts and did publicity that wouldn't have seemed

  • out of place in the 1950s and 60s. When a transcontinental footrace called the

  • Bunion Derbywas run, the association made sure a big part of it took place on Route 66.

  • But it was struggle that initially made Route

  • 66's reputation.

  • We're going to California, ain't we? Alright then, let's go to California.”

  • The Great Depression and Dust Bowl — a rut

  • of drought and erosionsent families looking West for a better life.

  • Route 66 was perfectly designed to scoop them up, leading John Steinbeck to write that these

  • migrantscome into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the

  • rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.”

  • Though records show that highways 60 and 70 actually admitted more traffic to California,

  • Route 66 had become the iconicmother road.” And then things really got going.

  • Okay, I have a slight wait before I dine alone, so there's time for activities.

  • That thing's terrifying. “Oh, it is.”

  • This boot's a metaphor for steakand boots.

  • It's time.

  • I feel like the only way to go mega-vi is to get that 72 ounce steak.

  • OK, see that big 66 on there? Amarillo, Texas, is a good example of a big

  • Route 66 town. They were already a transportation center.

  • This 1926 mapthe year Route 66 startedshows Amarillo was a railroad hub.

  • After World War II ended, that existing commerce and Route 66 made it easy to add roadside

  • attractions. And it's still that way today.

  • Over time, Route 66 did this for towns a lot smaller than Amarillo, too.

  • This is the middle of the video, by the way. Right now. Yeah.

  • It also did it for Vega, Texas.

  • Carolyn was nice enough to be my tour guide.

  • She showed me her house.

  • This is Ben's dad. And grandpa and me.”

  • Oh wow.”

  • She's very into dinosaurs.

  • Armorage and spikes. And teeth.”

  • And so where did you find these?”

  • Out North of Town.” And she also showed me the Magnolia Gas Station,

  • which got started just before Route 66 became official. She actually helped restore the

  • space, including the second floor, where people used to live.

  • OK.” “It's a filling station, but somebody

  • said at one time they also sold ice. I'm not too sure about that part.”

  • The kitchen was green. The bedroom was blue. See, I hung pans up there so you'd

  • know it was the kitchen.”

  • Those pictures are neat because they show

  • the horses pulling the cars out of the water.”

  • To support all that travel and all those attractions,

  • Route 66 had a unique motel culture. Of course, even as it succeeded, Route 66

  • was limited by the prevailing prejudices of the time.

  • The Green Book was a traveling guide for black motorists to find safe lodging.

  • In Tucumcari, New Mexico, in 1960, listed options were scarce.

  • Route 66 made a culture, but it didn't change the existing one.

  • And in the 1960s, just as the Route 66 road trip hit its peak, the road was already being eclipsed.

  • Today, Glenrio, New Mexico is a ghost town.

  • It's not alone.

  • After the Interstate Highway Act of 1956,

  • new, better funded interstates were built for defense and infrastructure.

  • In Texas and New Mexico, you can see how I-40 followed Route 66 in some spots, but also

  • split away. This is what that can look like.

  • But it doesn't have to.

  • We had the privilege of designing and creating

  • two murals, one here in Joplin, Missouri, and another in Galena, Kansas.”

  • We wanted to help revitalize and show off our local area on historic Route 66.”

  • Route 66.”

  • “I'm the president of the Oklahoma Statewide

  • Route 66 association and I'm the chair of the Tulsa Route 66 commission. About ten years

  • ago, I sold everything I owned and left the country and I backpacked for ten months throughout

  • Southeast Asia and Europe. When I got home to Tulsa, which is where I was raised, I thought

  • Okay, I've seen all these amazing places, what does Tulsa have? Of course, Route 66

  • goes right through Tulsa. I thought, well, it's been here the whole time, I haven't

  • really paid attention, and started exploring it.”

  • “I'm Larry Smith and I'm owner/operator of the Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico,

  • on historic Route 66.” “Yeah, this is the motel I'm staying at.”

  • “I'd hit a wall with my job at the time and I noticed while I was driving 66 that

  • the road was using a lot of that older generation. It really needed the right people to own the

  • businesses along the Route.”

  • But saving Route 66 doesn't answer the big

  • question: why it matters.

  • So I did not eat a 72-ounce steak. But I found

  • somebody who did. “This is the most excited I've been for

  • an interview since I talked to an astronaut.” “The story behind it is that I compete in

  • track and field professionally, I throw the shot. I was kind of injured at the time and

  • I performed really terribly and we were gonna drive through Amarillo. I heard about the

  • steak, so I'm like, 'I have to have one win.' And honestly, it's not the fullness,

  • it's the chewing. By the end I was like, I can't chew anything else and I was drinking

  • as much water as possible to get it down. I'm glad I did it but I don't know if

  • I'd ever do that again. I mean, I do a lot of ridiculous things. Hey, didn't do well

  • at this track meet? I'm gonna eat a 72-ounce steak to prove to myself I can overcome something.”

  • The Big Texan Ranch isn't on Route 66 anymore. The owner moved it closer to I-40 in 1970.

  • And yet it still is Route 66. We think of places on a map as dots. But maybe

  • a place can be a line.

  • There was desert as far as the eye can

  • see.” “I was getting to the point where I needed

  • a break from seeing patients in and out. So I called up my friend from med school and

  • said, 'hey we have this window, would you be interested in a road trip?'”

  • Route 66 kinda became a character in our journey. It was kinda like the Oregon Trail

  • with all the challenges popping up, and the prize at the end was our new home at the end

  • of the highway.” “I had a flat tire. So I took my camera

  • out and took some long exposure shots of my car and the night sky.”

  • So the graduation gift to my three boys as they exit high school is a 14-day

  • driving trip out WestSt. George, Utahto meet my biological family.”

  • My great great grandfather, Ramon Negrette, emigrated from Mexico to a tiny town in Arizona

  • called Williams in the early 1900s, before Route 66 was there. He painted the house yellow

  • and it is still there today, the yellow house in Williams. We think my great grandma still haunts

  • the house? What I love about Route 66 is that it's not just a road that's going through

  • tiny towns and big towns in America. It's a road that goes through people's histories

  • and carries legacies of perseverance and hope, and I think that's what makes it so fascinating

  • and so beautiful.”

  • Alright, that's it for this road trip along Route 66. I'm about to read a couple of

  • comments from the last episode all about why every suburb looks the same, but first I just

  • want to give a little plug for the Vox Video Lab. In there right now I've got a special

  • video that shows exactly how I did one shot in the Route 66 video that you just saw. It's

  • an obsessive, nerdy, technical breakdown and that's the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff

  • that you always get in the Video Lab, in addition to supporting big videos like this one. Now

  • let's look at a couple of comments. “As a European, it's so weird to see streets

  • without a pavement/sidewalk. Where tf are you supposed to walk?”

  • Yeah. City Beautiful and Vox both made a video on

  • this in the same day. Yes. This is the craziest coincidence I've

  • experienced in almost 100 videos. We turned out to be video soulmates and we made this

  • video very very close apart even though both of us had been working on it for months. But

  • the take home point here, besides a crazy coincidence or glitch in the Matrix? City

  • Beautiful's an awesome channel if you're interested in urban planning. Go ahead and

  • add them to your subscription feed if you want more videos like that. That's it for

  • this one, the next episode of this Road Trip edition of Almanac is the last one, and it

  • tackles how roads can shape public policy in really unexpected ways.

Why does Route 66 matter?

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Why Route 66 became America’s most famous road

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/08/18
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