July 16, 2001—Day 12, Route 66-Amarillo, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico

July 16, 2001.

July 16, 2001.

 

Our distance today was pre-planned—287 miles from Amarillo, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This part of the trip started a fire under both Kyle and I to get to the west coast as quick as possible. Albuquerque’s fire also burned me.

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July 10, 2001—Day 6, Chicago, Illinois

ChiMap

July 10, 2001

Chicago, Illinois, is one of those places you can never get enough of. In 2001, though, it was not the Chicago of today. Marshall Field’s was still its own breed of department stores, maintaining the senior Field’s vision of having a mini bazaar in the middle of Chicago. Lace from Ireland, Silver from France, and clothing tailored in London, Paris, and New York City was displayed for sale on the many floors of Marshall Field’s, which took up and entire city block and went eleven floors above State Street. Home furnishings, lavish walnut paneled restaurants, fountains, and decadent candy stores made shopping here an all day event. Grant Park was still working on its final Frank Gehry redesign. Trader Vic’s was serving south Pacific dishes in the basement of the Palmer House Hilton. For Kyle and I, this was a day of exploration, which involved the two of us getting lost. This was the only time we explored a city without a map.

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July 6, 2001—Day 2, Pittsburgh

 

MapPitt

Day 2, July 6, 2001

My Pittsburgh visit lasted all of one-and-a-half days. It wasn’t long enough for me to really come to understand the city. I met a lot of nice and interesting people, but the city itself seemed to be in the middle of shaking off a long-time migraine. I think 2001 signaled the year when Pittsburgh was ready to move away from the idea that it would ever be Steel City again, and at the same time, the realization set in that all the chasms where coke and cobalt were removed would start to tighten into the Rust Belt.

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The Lonely Tall Paul in Atlanta

Atlanta, Illinois, was born of the railroad—like many towns/cities in the United States—and when the railroads went, so did Atlanta. With a population hovering around 1,600 for the past few decades, Atlanta is not a withering city, but a small town welcoming visitors with a yellow smiley face painted on their water tower. Back in 2001, I remember driving through the town and seeing nothing but empty, rotting buildings, with the exception of the grocery store on Vine Street that had no signage indicating what it was. Today that market is still there with its front glass window subtly painted with the words “Country Market,” and it’s been joined by a few businesses that have not only been revived, but have a steady (though small) flow of customers daily.

Tall Paul stands in the center of Atlanta, Illinois, across the street from The Palms Grill Cafe.

A few years ago, Atlanta started reshaping its downtown to entice Route 66ers, and when Tall Paul was planted in the middle of Main Street it provided the first of many photo-ops as well as landed Atlanta on the very small map of towns/cities home to a fiberglass Muffler Man, here known as Tall Paul.

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Of Soldiers and Sailors

In downtown Cleveland, surrounded by four right angles of traffic, stands The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, or known locally as Cleveland’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. The monument’s most notable recognition would probably come from the opening scenes of “A Christmas Story,” where little Ralphie, his brother Randy, and all their friends press their noses against the display windows of Higbee’s Department Store—in the background stands the monument ignorant of the Christmas season, blackened by years of soot and pollution from the burning furnaces of steel mills circling the city like like stationary iron and chromium buttresses.

The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors Monument after a recent cleaning.

Today the monument has been cleaned and invites visitors to look at her insides, walls lined with gray granite and Amherst sandstone where the names of local soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War are carved, with the notable exception of any Black soldiers who served (apparently there are plans to add those missing names to the stone walls as the names are discovered through research), and four interior bronze wall reliefs depicting important moments of the Civil War. Above the walls are the bronze carved images of high ranking officers. The yellow, bronze and red colored walls and their echo gives today’s visitor the feeling that he/she is in the bathroom of train station.  Albeit a clean bathroom, but this is a step back in time when the cultural symbols were different. When memorializing and the neutral color of yellow depicted remembrance. Still, around the exterior of the monument all you can smell is urine— you can see the decades of piss stains on the red sandstone. Continue reading