Since 1926, when Route 66 was first launched by the Bureau of Public Roads, business and small towns thrived with its usage. However, in recent years since its decommissioning in 1985 along with the new Interstate highway systems largely made of its obsolete–along with it, the economic driver for some of the little towns along the way.
For years, many small businesses and towns have struggled while trying to revitalize its historic value and maintain the culture of its appeal. Often referred to as the “Mother Road,” leaders across party lines have favored bringing life back to the “Main Street of America.” In 2018, Congress passed in the House a bill to designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.
No doubt about it, Route 66 is a national treasure and a local asset. It’s something to be celebrated. However, as time goes on, less and less local residents and young people are aware of its historical and commercial significance. Currently if people search online for route 66, they’ll find a variety of sites scattered about to provide travelers with history and landmarks about Route 66.
However, for the past 30 years there hasn’t been any significant efforts done to help businesses in communities that have been affected by the new Interstate highway system. Slowly, these communities have dwindled and forgotten while those who remained have struggled to survive.
We started the Route 66 Project nearly 4 years to support the efforts to revitalize and reinvigorate people’s experience along Central downtown Albuquerque of Route 66. Our initial efforts at the time was to work with the local Silver Platinum Neighborhood Association to help bring the revitalization efforts to the downtown Albuquerque corridor. Since then it had evolved to include additional parts of Route 66 including los ranchos, east gate, and westside, etc. We’re striving to help travelers find, navigate, and do commerce along the best parts of Route 66 while giving local residents a way to enjoy living along the way.
With the forthcoming Federal Legislation to make Route 66 a National Historic Trail ahead of its 100th year anniversary, we see a tremendous opportunity to create value and make a difference for the business communities along the whole Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles (and everything in between including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, & Los Lunas). Most of the efforts made by government agencies and other Route 66 associations up to this point has been to preserve the physical places and infrastructure. (See more resources https://rt66.me/more-route66)
We’re approaching it from another perspective. Instead of looking backwards at the history, we use the history to propel us forward to a bright future. Our focus is, Doing Business on the Mother Road. Every business big and small have been affected by what has been done. The past is something we can’t change, however, the lesson of neglect is timely. Our project is designed to change all of that.
We can all agree, Route 66 is an asset for any community including Albuquerque. I would like you to consider our modest proposal to make it an attractive place to live, work, and visit. Furthermore, we know that crime and homelessness thrive when this asset falls into disrepair. While the city and other government entities look at solutions to help return Route 66 into an economic engine it once was for our community. The Route 66 Project seeks to do so from the private sector, calling on local businesses to join together to contribute to a platform that will sustain and expand reach into the foreseeable future.
Additionally, with technological innovations combined with creativity and commercial action, we can work together to ensure a prosperous future along the Mother Road. Would you join us as we work together to build an audience of travelers and residents who value the connections we once had as we travel and find our kicks on Route 66?
Here are the 3 elements of our plan:
- Online Route 66 Business Directory (BETA site available now = https://route66sites.com) – Available to register
- Interactive Printed Magazine & Business Directory (publishing by Spring/Summer 2020)
- 10,000 copies printed and distributed throughout the city for customer pickup
- Saturation mailing to select/strategic neighborhoods to attract attention and increase readership locally
- Community Oriented Mobile App (To be released in Spring 2021)
We’re looking for business and community partners to join our efforts to establish a comprehensive directory of businesses for travelers and local residents of Route 66. As we advance, we’ll have opportunities to come together in a unifying way through our common interest of support our respective communities and share the culture of the American heartland.
Route 66 is aptly named the “Mother Road” as it has provided (and will continue to provide) people from all walks of life to be bound together with one common interest across all backgrounds, religions, political parties, and creed. The freedom for life, liberty, and travel!