Route 66 was the iconic highway of twentieth-century America, stretching from downtown Chicago to the Mississippi River at East St. Louis and proceeding through the Indian lands of Oklahoma and the Southwest to Los Angeles and the Pacific Coast, connecting Americans physically and culturally. In this engaging, meticulously researched, and fully illustrated study, Arthur Krim explores the fascinating history and complex symbolism behind this most famous American highwayboth on the ground and in the mind.
Route 66 traces the iconography of US 66 first as an idea, then as a fact, and finally as an enduring symbol found in classic American books and films, songs and television programs, and pop art. While the antecedents of Route 66 are to be found in the prehistoric trade and hunting paths of the Indian peoples, in the Spanish expeditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in the wagon trails and railroad routes of the nineteenth century, construction of Route 66 during the twentieth century ushered in the revolutionary era of the modern American highway and of cross-country automobile travel.
In his innovative study, Krim discloses how the highway transcended its gravel and concrete physicality to become an enduring metaphor for the American spirit of exploration and discovery, freedom and hope that is historically found by its people heading west. He draws on a wealth of scholarly and visual materials to examine how Route 66 evolved through each passing generation, from Main Street boosters during the road's early development to John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath during the Dust Bowl years, from Bobby Troup's unforgettable '(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66' to renditions of the song by Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones during the early rock and roll years, from Jack Kerouac's classic book, On the Road, to the cult film, 'Easy Rider,' and the television drama, 'Route 66,' during the pop culture years, to recent regional and mass-marketing advertising of products that rely on the transcendent Route 66 name.
Combining history and geography, metaphor and captivating iconography, Krim reveals how Route 66 compressed disparate socio-economic events, traditional democratic ideals, and emerging cultural ideas into the national memory of Route 66 that prevails today. Route 66, now available in an elegant paperback edition, is a pioneering book not to be missed.
** Nominated for a 2015 IPPY Award" from the Independent Publishers Association **
Arthur Krim is an independent writer, geographer, and architectural historian based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a founding member of the Society for Commercial Archeology. He has worked professionally for decades as a research consultant and lecturer with various institutions, including the Boston Architectural Center, Cambridge Historical Commission, Clark University, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Salve Regina University, and Sotheby's Photographs. His research articles on Route 66 have appeared in Landscape, Journal of Cultural Geography, and Journal of Historical Geography, among other scholarly journals, and in two books, Roadside America and Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle. For his book,Route 66, Arthur Krim was awarded the prestigious J. B. Jackson Prize of the Association of American Geographers for the best book in cultural geography.
DENIS WOOD, an independent writer and geographer based in Raleigh, North Carolina, was a distinguished professor of design at North Carolina State University from 1974 to 1998. His many acclaimed and influential books include The Power of Maps, which was a History Book Club and a Quality Paperback Book Club selection, Rethinking the Power of Maps with John Fels and John Krygier, Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, Five Billion Years of Global Change: A History of the Land, and the classic, Home Rules, with Robert Beck.