|Route 66: Iconography of the American Highway,
the Commemorative Edition
by Arthur Krim
editor Denis Wood
Winner of the J. B. Jackson Prize for the Best Book in Cultural Geography! Published to coincide with the exhibition, "Route 66: The Road and the Romance," at the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles.
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 highway—both 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.
The commemorative softcover edition was published to coincide with the exhibit, Route 66: The Road and the Romance at the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. Below is a list of reviews of the exhibit:
Today Show's travel section
Pasadena Star News
Orange County Register
NBC of Southern California