Route 66 goes through London

By | Category: Travel news
Shea's Gas Station Museum on the real Route 66

Shea’s Gas Station Museum on the real Route 66

The American Route 66 is in Clerkenwell in north London.

Not the actual road or highway but a mural on the side of a building.

The obvious question is what is doing there and, if it has to be here, why Clerkenwall rather than Wapping or Acton? At 52 feet tall, it isn’t something that can miss either as you drive or as you look out of a double-decker bus.

The answer as to why it is there is because Route 66 is 90 year’ old this year and the Illinois tourism people have decided that a mural would drum up extra publicity for the state despite the fact that the highway runs through more than one state and stretches for nearly 2,500 miles, somewhat shorter than any road in Clerkenwell does.

Thea artist, Will Vibes took 350 hours and used 145 tins of spray paint to apply the mural for the Illinois Office of Tourism. The enormous wall painting on the side of a building on Clerkenwell Road depicts is supposed to represent iconic Americana from the Illinois stretch of the road and one of the many traditional American diners which are found along it.

Route 66 expert Jim Hinckley, 58, said: “Route 66 is an almost magical road.  “It’s the best of America – you go cruising through the heartland, through the cornfields and the open countryside. It’s an authentic American experience. “The state of Illinois, where the road begins, has worked hard to preserve its part in the road’s history.  “It transcends barriers of language and culture. It is so long that people can actually make friendships on the road because they bump into each other at roadside cafes and restaurants. Most of these have been renovated and restored. He added: “Route 66 is a symbol of freedom, adventure and hope.  “From its inception Route 66 represented a journey to a new life, and the freedom of spirit that is at the heart of any great road trip.”

Because Route 66 is iconic, the publicity is trying to say that Illinois is iconic too. See the real America by seeing Illinois.

So what will Londoners make of it? It doesn’t matter. Illinois has gained large amounts of press coverage in the last week and not just in the travel sections.  Illinois will be happy that they have placed the name of their state in front of holiday makers.


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