Posts tagged “highways

Follow the Signs

Posted on May 31, 2012

Billboards dot the roadside along most American highways today, making it difficult to imagine a time when highway signs not only drew close attention but even created a sensation. The following aerial views of two American tourist traps show the importance of highways in delivering visitors. While Wall Drug began as a small-town pharmacy with a Main Street storefront, South of the Border sprouted as a stop along U.S. Highway 301. Although both attractions built their reputations through shrewd advertising along hundreds of miles of roads, as detailed by historians Troy Henderson and Meeghan Kane in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, the route of Interstate highways helped assure their continuation even as countless other roadside attractions closed after being marooned when the freeways whisked…

Saving Route 66

Posted on April 2, 2012

Jack Kerouac’s spontaneous, cross-country odysseys, fictionalized in his 1957 novel On the Road, may not have taken place on Route 66, but Route 66 likely comes closer than any other American highway to evoking the sense of possibility embedded in the travel experience. Ironically, Kerouac published his most famous work just one year after the passage of the Interstate Highway Act. Recently, the National Park Service, in partnership with the American Express and World Monuments Fund Sustainable Tourism Initiative and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, created the Route 66 Travel Itinerary as part of the World Monuments Fund’s Historic Route 66 Project, which also includes a virtual reality tour and an economic impact study that recommends ways to encourage the revitalization of the…

Rethinking the Gateway

Posted on March 8, 2012

The mid-20th century saw many examples of freeways severing organic ties between cities and their waterfronts or, in many places, reinforcing patterns of public disuse of waterside districts cemented by decades of intensive industrial, railroad, and port development.  San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, of course, was an early signal of an emergent public outcry against privileging the automobile over the pedestrian at the water’s edge.  Taking cues from the freeway revolt in San Francisco, New Orleans activists brought aesthetic arguments to the fore in their battle against the Riverfront Expressway (originally planned by Robert Moses as part of an arterial expressway system for the Crescent City in the 1940s).  Where San Franciscans failed, New Orleanians prevailed.  They built upon their victory against the elevated roadway…