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12, July 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Big Chief Roadhouse

In 1920 few people paid much attention to the idea of a “highway business,” but there would soon be a fortune waiting on the roadside. Within the first year of the Federal Highway System’s founding in 1926, the American Automobile Association predicted tourists would drop $3.3 billion along the nation’s roads because they needed places to sleep, eat, and gas up. The experience of getting gas was generally the same everywhere, but eating and sleeping along the road could rapidly devolve into unwanted adventures. Read more »

28, June 2017

St. Louis’s Forgotten Sit-In Story

Long before four male African American college students held their February 1, 1960, sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, St. Louisans were using the tactic to push for a change in their city’s segregated dining establishments. Read more »

7, June 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Spencer's Grill

When most St. Louisans think of Route 66, they tend to think of Watson Road in South County. Watson is widely known as Historic Route 66. With stops such as Ted DrewesDonut Drive-InCrestwood Bowl, and the gone-but-still-infamous Coral Court all within a few miles, it’s easy to see why that stretch is so memorable. But when Route 66 passed through large cities, it was rarely just one road; drivers could actually choose which alignment of Route 66 they wanted to take. Read more »

17, May 2017

It Sure Is Good, Guys and Gals!

If you’re from this area or have lived here for some time, those words—the tagline for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard—instantly conjure thoughts of summer and the quintessential St. Louis frozen treat: a concrete you can turn upside down without spilling a drop. Read more »

30, April 2017

How Did Route 66 Get Its Number?

The black-and-white Route 66 shield is an internationally recognized symbol of America, on par with the Golden Gate Bridge, Gateway Arch, and Statue of Liberty. The road itself is a 2,400-mile icon of America’s collective memory. Even for those of us who weren’t around to drive it during its heyday, the number 66 is mythical. But what if that number had been different, like 60, 62, or even 60N? Read more »

10, April 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Crestwood Bowl

Let’s be honest: For most people, bowling falls into the just-for-kicks category, which makes it feel right at home on Route 66. These days bowling is a hobby at best, something to break up a long family road trip, an activity to do when family visits from out of town, or a relaxing way to spend a weekend night. If you were to ask most people about bowling’s place in the professional-sports world, they might laugh or shrug before readily admitting that bowling is no baseball or football, games with widely accepted greats and unmatched naturals. Read more »

1, March 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Motel Row

When it came to getting sleep along Route 66, motel owners often managed precious little because they were too busy competing to convince travelers that they alone offered the best night’s rest. With each passing year, motorists had more money to spend and more options to choose from on the Mother Road. As a result, motel owners were constantly updating their offerings and advertisements to draw in those dollars. Gone were the days when bed linens and indoor plumbing were enough for most folks. Now people wouldn't dream of sleeping somewhere that didn’t feature a television, air conditioning, or a flashy piece of roadside neon. Read more »

9, February 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Donut Drive-In & Ted Drewes

For Route 66 fans, there's no better place on a mild spring night than Chippewa Street. On a short section near St. Louis's city limits, two Route 66 legends sit just blocks apart. Their neon signs glow in the night, calling to travelers and lighting up the neighborhood. For more than half a century, they’ve tantalized Mother Road drivers with a truly challenging question: Should I stop for custard, or should I stop for a donut? Read more »

26, January 2017

It's Neon Time!

Neon expert David Hutson has restored multiple signs along Route 66 in Missouri, including the Donut Drive-In and Sunset Motel signs. While making the feature-length documentary Show Me 66: Main Street Through Missouri, we spent some time with Hutson at Neon Time, his shop in St. Charles. There we discussed the role neon played on Route 66 and why neon has become such a big part of the road's cultural legacy. Read more »

20, January 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Maplewood Business District

For anyone trying to drive Route 66 through St. Louis, the path of the world’s most famous highway isn’t so clear. You could take Watson Road, known as Historic 66, but not the road’s original path. You could get on Lindbergh Boulevard, which was sometimes the main Route 66, sometimes 66 Bypass, and sometimes not a part of Route 66 at all. You could cross five Mississippi River bridges, drive on nearly a dozen major St. Louis streets, and chase various alignments—all without ever leaving the Mother Road. How can this be? In contrast to small towns where Route 66 was often the one and only “main street,” Route 66 shifted, twisted, and turned through big cities such as St. Louis. Read more »