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Main Street - The Lost Dream of Route 66

Photographs and Words by Edward Keating

Assigned by The New York Times Magazine to photograph Route 66 in May 2000, I continued on the project after the piece was published for another eleven years, documenting the road’s demise and the social conditions of those who were living out their lives on the lost highway. Contrary to the myth of Route 66 being a place of postcard fun and adventure, what I found on my trips across the ‘Mother Road’ was a road and a culture in distress. Besides a smattering of well-preserved motels, roadside amusements and a handful of nostalgic gift shops, the highway had devolved into little more than an access road to the larger and heavier interstates that often ran parallel. What was left in its wake, was decay and sadness, traces of another time, people just holding on, the end of an era. With a personal and family history with the road, I hoped to get an accurate snapshot of the remnants of America’s “Mother Road,” to preserve what I could for history before the wrecking ball of time completed its work.

— Edward Keating

Munger Moss Motel, Lebanon, Missouri. 2007.

Shamrock, Texas: Nearly extinct in most parts of the country, old-style garages still serve owners of older model cars in parts of Texas and the southwest. 2003.

Tucumcari, NM: A woman with not much to do, waits for the local pawn shop to open. There is little pedestrain traffic along most of Route 66. 2005.

A woman waits alone for a bus on the western approach to St. Louis. 2005.

Amish girls buying supplies at KOA campground on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. 2000.

A slow day on a slow road in rural Missouri. Two friends try to rent from selling junk. Asked how often they hold their sale, the fellow on the right replied, “Every day.” 2000.

Winslow, Arizona: A nonagenarian, African American man leaning against side of his house posing for a photo. On my next trip through Winslow I stopped by to say hello and learned he had passed away six months earlier. 2003.

Flagstaff, Arizona. 2000.

Holbrook, Arizona. 2002.

Newberg, Missouri. 2003.

Holbrook, Arizona. 2002.

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