The Community Investment staff, with assistance from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, are continuing coordination and design development of the Route 66 Commemoration project. Since the Route 66 and Lunar Legacy projects both include a ‘Walk This Talk’ program, this presentation will also include PowerPoint slides about Walk This Talk-Lunar Legacy. An abbreviated overview of the Route 66 project was presented to Council on September 11, 2018.
In addition to the inherent benefit of helping preserve and interpret our history, commemorating and celebrating the history of Route 66 is also economically important. Many cities and towns across the country have recognized the tourism opportunities of the Route and capitalized on them in various ways. To capitalize on Flagstaff’s portion of the Route, Community Investment is focusing on a uniquely Flagstaff design approach—one inspired by our visual geology, the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest, Flagstaff's proximity to numerous national parks and monuments, and a gateway to the Colorado Plateau.
Beginning on the east side of town near the I-40 Walnut Canyon exit and running to Flagstaff Ranch Road on the west, the approximately 15 miles of Route 66 within Flagstaff is envisioned to have several types of commemorative monuments. The project’s nine separate sites will feature six sign monuments, two groupings of interpretive signs, and one pedestrian audio tour. Each site will act as a ‘punctuation mark’ along the Route to help commemorate the importance of what has come to be known as “The Mother Road.”
The sign monuments will be constructed from locally quarried stone in the ‘National Park Service Rustic’ style and announce the beginning and end points of the Route within city limits. A similarly designed monument will be at the junction of 66 and Highway 89, and one is being considered on Flagstaff Mall’s frontage along 66. Many of these Rustic style signs existed in and around Flagstaff during Route 66’s heyday to direct motorists to Flagstaff as well as nearby national parks and monuments, so historical precedent exists to adapt this design for commemorating the Route.
To take advantage of Flagstaff’s Route 66 through downtown’s pedestrian-oriented streets, a Route 66 audio tour is also being developed. Known as Walk this Talk-Route 66, this project will be installed on the original alignment of the Route in downtown—a very walkable district in the city’s Southside neighborhood whose connection to the Route’s lore is not well known. Pedestrian-scale signs at locations along the Route will prompt tourists to call a toll-free phone number to hear pre-recorded oral histories of site-specific occurrences and the general history of Southside and its connection to the Route.
Walk-66 will start at the Visitor’s Center where the first stop on the audio tour provides an overview of the tour and its path through Southside. The program is purposely low-tech—a 1-800 number to call instead of QR codes to scan—so that non-smart phones can be used, and specialized knowledge is not required to access the recordings.
Future developments to the Walk-66 program include recording the narratives in other languages and website developments with expanded text coverage and images to more fully tell Flagstaff’s history.
Two of the project’s venues, Walk this Talk-Route 66, and McAllister Ranch, have their production work substantially completed and should be installed and operational by summer 2019. The remaining venues are currently being designed and anticipated to be completed by the fiscal year 2021.