Archive for the ‘route 66’ Tag

Across LA: Beverly Boulevard

So for the third year in a row, I participated in the Great Los Angeles Walk, an annual event that’s been doing on for more than a decade, usually involving a crosstown walk on one of the many major boulevards. This year it was Beverly Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.

It’s most interesting in the first eight miles, as Beverly goes through the remnants of the old Filipinotown, parallels the Hollywood Freeway, then gets progressively upscale as it curves gently through Hancock Park’s mansions, Fairfax, and ends in Beverly Hills. It merges with the wide Santa Monica Blvd., and then adopts a more suburban, freeway-like character as it drops elevation towards Santa Monica. Happily, it ends in pedestrian-friendly territory, passing the busy Third Street Promenade. There are interesting murals scattered throughout, and overall it’s a pretty colorful, and not traffic-choked route through town. As usual, I walked it barefoot, pushing my limits as I covered a rather punishing 19 miles over 7.5 hours.

Bob Baker Marionette Theater, mural

Historic Filipinotown mural

The original Tommy’s, with the legendary chiliburger and the bathroom trip.

Googie, dingbat, whatever you want to call it. Classic LA!

The endangered CBS studios, classic midcentury architecture

And the end of the road, with a pretty sunset in Santa Monica

 

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Route 66, Albuquerque

It’s America’s most recognized highway that doesn’t officially exist. Route 66 was decommissioned in segments from 1977-1985, leaving a slowly decaying, but much-loved jumble of quintessentially American images, a thin ribbon of now discontinuous asphalt stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Route 66 passes through Albuquerque, New Mexico, along Central Avenue. It remains a busy commercial artery, with plenty of neon signs, wacky motels, and a wide slice of life. Since my first visit in 2005, much has been lost. A number of historic motels have been razed, others are fenced off and empty, others are barely hanging on as low-cost housing. And some are still well-restored motels. It’s still one of the best urban sections of Route 66, despite the recent changes.

Tewa Lodge, 5715 E. Central

Tewa Lodge (1946), 5715 Central Ave. NE

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Zia Lodge (1940), 4611 Central Ave. SE, demolished

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Aztec Motel (1931), 3821 Central Ave. NE, demolished

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DeAnza Motor Lodge (1939), 4301 Central Ave. NE

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Hiway House (1958), 3200 Central Ave. SE

Kimo Theater (1927), 423 Central Ave. NW

Kimo Theater (1927), 423 Central Ave. NW

Tulsa architecture

Unlikely destination, isn’t it? But this is one of the hidden treasures of American architecture. Here’s a sampler of the good stuff.

Downtown Tulsa is rich with distinguished Art Deco structures, a product of the oil boom of the 1920s. Many still exist, but a few are in terrible shape and on the verge of disappearing. It’s a pretty quiet downtown overall, but it was somewhat crowded the day I visited, since Luke Bryan was playing the BOK Center, with plenty of cowboy boots on the ground. A few blocks east of Boston Avenue is the Blue Dome district, which has a handful of bars and restaurants, and an emerging entertainment zone.

Tulsa Fire Alarm Building (1934), now a bit orphaned east of the freeway

Tulsa Fire Alarm Building (1934), now a bit orphaned east of the freeway

Oklahoma’s most famous architect is Bruce Goff, known for his rather bizarre structures, and his judicious use of recycled materials. So he’s one of the pioneering green architects, utilizing scrap metal, glass, ashtrays, you name it. His buildings are all over Oklahoma, but most concentrated in Tulsa and nearby Bartlesville. His early works show the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright and then a period of Art Deco works, and his later works are uncategorizable and odd, yet livable buildings. The Boston Avenue Church is probably his best known structure, an Art Deco masterpiece.

Mincks-Adams Hotel (1928), with Minoru Yamasaki's BOK Tower (1975)

Mincks-Adams Hotel (1928), with Minoru Yamasaki’s BOK Tower (1975)

Boston Avenue Methodist Church (1928)

Boston Avenue Methodist Church (1928)

Tulsa Union Depot (1931)

Tulsa Union Depot (1931)

As for Route 66, which runs along 11th Street in Tulsa, and clips the southern end of downtown after a roller coaster ride through the city, it’s a shadow of what it used to be. Compared with my first visit back in 2001, now only a handful of signs are still standing, and many empty lots and ruins. It hasn’t been a healthy commercial strip in a very long time, despite a few new businesses that have set up recently. I took coffee at 918 Coffee, which is a relatively new space that opened a few months ago.

There are also plenty of very swanky neighborhoods, with large lawns, curvy streets, and immaculate houses, many of them with distinguished structures. Frank Lloyd Wright has a large house in town, and Bruce Goff’s early efforts are scattered about. I’ll try to write a post about Goff and Wright later.

Boston Avenue vista, downtown Tulsa

Boston Avenue vista, downtown Tulsa