1-3 of 3 Results  for:

  • Western History x
  • Cultural History x
Clear all

Article

The History of Route 66  

Stephen Mandrgoc and David Dunaway

During its existence from 1926 to its formal decommissioning in 1985, US Highway 66, or Route 66, came to occupy a special place in the American imagination. For a half-century and more, it symbolized American individualism, travel, and the freedom of the open road with the transformative rise of America’s automobile culture. Route 66 was an essential connection between the Midwest and the West for American commercial, military, and civilian transportation. It chained together small towns and cities across the nation as America’s “Main Street.” Following the path of older trails and railroads, Route 66 hosted travelers in many different eras: the adventurous motorist in his Ford Model A in the 1920s, the Arkies and Okies desperate for a new start in California in the 1930s, trucks carrying wartime soldiers and supplies in the 1940s, and postwar tourists and travelers from the 1950s onward. By its nature, it brought together diverse cultures of different regions, introducing Americans to the “others” that were their regional neighbors, and exposing travelers to new arts, music, foods, and traditions. It became firmly embedded in pop culture through songs, books, television, and advertisements for its attractions as America’s most famous road. Travel on Highway 66 steadily declined with the development of controlled-access interstate highways in the 1960s and 1970s. The towns and cities it connected and the many businesses and attractions dependent on its traffic and tourism protested the removal of the highway designation by the US Transportation Department in 1985, but their efforts failed. Nonetheless, revivalists who treasured the old road worked to preserve the road sections and attractions that remained, as well as founding a wide variety of organizations and donating to museums and libraries to preserve Route 66 ephemera. In the early 21st century, Route 66 is an international icon of America, traveled by fans from all over the world.

Article

Los Angeles  

Jessica M. Kim

Since the founding of Los Angeles in the 18th century, the region has been a “global city,” defined by links between the region and the broader world. Los Angeles grew into the nation’s second-largest city and one of the world’s “megacities” or “global cities” as a direct result of European imperialism, global capitalism, and national and international patterns of migration. The 1781 founding of the city by Spanish settler colonists and later annexation by the United States were driven by global forces of colonization, conquest, and resource exploitation. Subsequent regional economic development and ties to global markets created economic growth in Los Angeles while drawing global migrations to Southern California from the late 19th century and into the 21st. Global migrations included the movement of millions of people to greater Los Angeles from Asia, Latin America, and around the world. These migrations transformed Los Angeles into one of the most diverse regions of the world by the first decades of the 20th century. The city’s phenomenal economic growth across the 20th century was also extensively tied to global economic links and the expansion of global capitalism. Global patterns of deindustrialization and economic restructuring at the end of the 20th century intersected with a significant rise of post-1965 immigration and settlement in Los Angeles in the final decades of the 20th century. At the start of the 21st century, it is the city’s diverse global communities that are reimagining and remaking the city in the face of deep urban economic and racial inequalities.

Article

San Francisco  

Ocean Howell

San Francisco has a reputation as a liberal city. But history shows that San Francisco’s liberalism must be regarded as evolving, contested, and often internally contradictory. The land that became the city was originally home to the Yelamu people, a small tribe in the Ohlone language group. Spanish missionaries arrived in 1776, but the Spanish empire only had a tenuous hold on the place—it was the furthest outpost of empire. By 1821, when the Mexican government took the land, most of the Native population had perished from disease. Immediately after the Americans took the place, in 1848, gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and the world rushed in. The population increased 2,400 percent in one year, and fewer than half of the new residents had been born anywhere in the United States. Well into the 20th century, elite San Franciscans worried that the rest of the country viewed their city as a barbarous place, full of foreign libertines seeking fortune and pleasure. These narratives masked the extent to which San Francisco’s economy was corporatized from the early days of the Gold Rush. They also present an image of racial liberalism that ultimately must be regarded as a myth. However, there is some truth in the view that the city has been a comparatively tolerant place, where various subcultures could thrive. San Francisco’s status as a bohemian place, a wide-open town, has always sat in tension with its role as a headquarters of global, corporate capital.