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California Route 66

(Released: February, 2005)

Ah California! Whether you follow the tire tracks of the Joad family from the epic novel Grapes of Wrath, or trace your childhood family vacation back to Disneyland and Hollywood, Route 66 can take you there. And what better occasion than the Route 66 Rendezvous in San Bernardino September 15 – 18. The Rendezvous is the largest Route 66 cruise event in the country and attracts over 2,000 cars and 600,000 spectators. You can keep abreast of the many Route 66 events associated with the Rendezvous by accessing the California Route 66 Preservation Foundation web site at www.cart66pf.org.

It goes without saying that California has a lot to offer Route 66 enthusiasts. And talk about diversity! Cross the beautiful Mohave Desert, down the various road alignments of Cajon Pass into the Inland Empire, enjoy the suburban stop-light communities of greater Los Angeles, and finally over to Santa Monica pier. A trip along Route 66 in California is rich in history, people, and great historic sites. Even though many historic properties have been lost to growth in California, there are still many left. Several exciting preservation initiatives are currently taking place, such as: A comprehensive historic building and road alignment survey of historic Route 66 properties has been funded in part through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in order to help prioritize properties in need of preservation and to identify historic properties along the route that are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Needles has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant to begin preservation and rehabilitation of the wonderful Fred Harvey Hotel known as El Garces. The owners of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto have renovated the motel units using their own resources and are now offering fine lodging experiences in the concrete tee-pees. In Monrovia, the classic Aztec Motel built in a lavish Mayan-revival style along the Los Angeles foothills, has received matching funds from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to produce a historic structures report and to address priority preservation needs. The residents of South Pasadena have accomplished a number of successful preservation initiatives through their pro-active preservation committee, including the rehabilitation of El Centro Drive-in Market and the Oaklawn Bridge. The "Bucket", which is a roadside vernacular wonder located on a c. 1930 alignment in Eagle Rock, has been restored and now requires a wait for the opportunity to eat a hamburger at one of the three barstools inside the tiny structure. A corridor management plan has been produced for the Arroyo Seco Parkway linking Pasadena to Los Angeles, which is intended to set into motion steps to balance safety and preservation needs along this first freeway west of the Mississippi. And lastly, through the “Broadway Initiative”, the Los Angeles Conservancy is working to resurrect the great movie theatre district that flanked the final blocks of the pre-1936 alignment of Route 66 in downtown Los Angeles.

There are, of course, many preservation challenges still ahead. For example, the historic designation for the Azusa Foothill Drive-In Theater recently survived a legal challenge by the theatre’s property owner. It is now hoped that this decision will spur the owner to begin discussions about potential shared uses of the property to keep this theatre, which is Los Angeles County’s last single-screen drive-in, intact. Another example is in the City of Fontana, where plans to improve the Route 66 alignment are developing. It is hoped that during this process the City of Fontana can find ways to promote the protection, and continued use, of the historic motels lining the route through town.

If you want to make a difference in helping to preserve sites such as the ones just described, consider motoring west in September to participate in the Route 66 Preservation Workshop sponsored by the National Park Service. This workshop will be held at the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia on September 13 and 14, 2005. The workshop is intended for professionals, advocates, and those who work, or plan to work, in preserving historic properties anywhere along Route 66. Attendees will include advocates from Route 66-related Associations, owners of historic properties along Route 66, members of city planning staffs, chambers of commerce, economic development offices, etc. Participants will learn from experts about standards, techniques, and tools for protecting and preserving travel related historic properties along Route 66. Available resources for preservation funding, neon restoration and road and bridge preservation will be presented. Also discussed will be methods for rehabilitating historic properties for new uses; the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties; the National Register of Historic Places; and the importance of local zoning ordinances and other policies. Sessions will investigate best practices for cooperative strategies between local planners, commissions, councils, property owners, and community development organizations. A detailed schedule of the workshop, and application, will be available March 1, 2005 at www.cr.nps.gov/rt66 The deadline for applications is June 1, 2005. A registration fee of $150 will be required to participate in the workshop. Hope to see you in California!

Michael Taylor
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program
National Park Service

 

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