Less than ten years from now Route 66, the Main Street of
America will turn 100 years of age. Arguably the old road, a highway that officially no longer exists, is more popular than at any time in its history and as a result, there is ample evidence that the iconic highway is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Still, Route 66, surprisingly, as a living time capsule faces an uncertain future.
The White Rock Court in Kingman is counted among the rarest of historic buildings with a direct Route 66 connection.If a list were to be composed of endangered relics, the bridges that are crucial to maintaining the historic integrity and context of the Route 66 experience are near the top of the list. Another leading contender are the motels with an emphasis on the auto court. Almost as rare as leprechauns riding unicorns are the motels, auto courts, and properties that were featured in editions of the Negro Motorist Green Book.
When it comes to centennial preparations for Route 66, preservation initiatives and projects need to serve as the cornerstone. The first step is the building of cooperative partnerships and development of programs that foster awareness about the importance of preserving the roads history, the economic benefits associated with Route 66 related preservation, and development of a sense that Route 66 is a linear community. What the Route 66 community needs today is a modern equivalent to the U.S. Highway 66 Association established in 1927 to market and brand Route 66, to serve as a voice for business owners and for communities, and to provide political clout.
From the dawn of the renaissance movement, organizations have been established to meet this need. Some were moderately successful, others met an immediate need and withered. With the advent of social media, it became easier that at anytime in the highways history to foster development of a sense of community, or to sow discord.
One of the most successful initiatives to date is the Route 66: The Road Ahead Partnership. There are, however, other initiatives such as the recently launched Revive 66 project that share similar goals and vision based on awareness that if Route 66 is to survive to the centennial and beyond, there is a need to build cooperative partnerships that foster development of a sense of community.
Recently, on a popular Route 66 Facebook group page, the moderator fueled a heated discussion about the need for these type of initiatives, and accused those involved with them as being self serving elitists. Fortunately this type of disingenuous personality is a relative rarity on Route 66. Most people involved with the highways preservation, or the business of Route 66 realize the need for initiatives that do not dictate, but instead provide leadership, and magnify the impact of grassroots projects from promotion and marketing to preservation.
Meanwhile, here at Jim Hinckley’s America the goal will continue to be the provision of service to any group or initiative that has the best interest of the Route 66 community at heart, and to disseminate information that makes travel planning easier. From the premier issue of the new Route magazine to presentations about the importance of integrating tourism and economic development, from walking tours to the penning of a book or two our goal is to simply lend a hand, and do our part to ensure Route 66 is alive and vibrant at its centennial and beyond.