November 11: get your kicks

2012/11/11 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1926  US Route 66 was established.

One of the first US highways, Route 66 linked Chicago and Los Angeles with 2,448 miles of asphalt, a long chord dotted pockets of roadside architecture that created a whole new vernacular for America.  Such idioms tend to be clustered geographically, but can spread along significant paths of travel, as is the case in the string of eleventh-century churches along main pilgrimage roads in southern France and northern Spain on the way to Santiago da Compostela.

Route 66 is different in its collection and articulation of shrines.  Filling Stations and tune-up shops, cafes and motels–especially those with “motor courts“–provided necessaries for needy travelers, oftentimes in eye-catching designs that pitted architectural design in an advertising struggle for consumers.  Sometimes sincere homages to local architectural customs, other times innovations in auto-age modernity, yet other instances showing the fanciful nature of advertecture designed to catch the eye and grab a buck, the goofy and imaginative buildings that popped up to serve the car-crazy Americans might not be the most treasured of national landmarks, but they are significant manifestations of a significant part of American culture.

Image: Route 66 Travel Mat (from this source)


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