The fate of the Carlyle Motel sign on Route 66 in Oklahoma City is worse than I thought. Click here for my original post on the subject.
Both sides of the sign (referred to in the promotion as east and west) are being sold off as puzzle pieces. Most of the pieces have already been purchased. Here are some screen shots. You’ll want to click on these images to enlarge them. Hat tip: “Dustin.”
You can still buy the T if you want. It’s $495.00
“Creative placemaking is a new way of making communities more livable and prosperous through the arts, and making them better places for the arts. Creative placemaking is about more than public art or performing arts centers. It is about making places better for everyone.”
The significance of the Carlyle Motel sign to Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66 was historic and economic. The sign was the book-end in a stretch of great neon signs along NW 39th Expressway. In fact, until the restoration of Automobile Alley, NW 39th Street just east of Portland to MacArthur had the longest stretch of neon signs in the city. There is still a lot of neon left on the street including the above Arby’s sign in all its hat and glory. I took that picture in 2008 or 2009.
There is even some relatively new neon at a used car dealership, Credit Connection, on 39th. The only picture I have of it I snapped with an old camera phone, but you can see the owner invested some serious coin in signage. That’s because signs are important.
Click here to review the primary principles that guide creative placemaking. These are from ArtsPlace, a collaboration of 13 foundations and banks that makes grants to help transform communities.
Finally, I just have to say that it’s not enough to point out problems. I wrote this commentary for KOSU in July 2012 about disappearing retro signs in Oklahoma City. (You can click here to listen to the audio via KOSU’s iTunes U feature.) But, I’ve never called a legislator, city council person or policymaker about sign preservation. So, as someone who loves Oklahoma City and who values cultural resources and historic preservation, I have to take responsibility for my own lack of advocacy. It wasn’t enough to write a commentary or take 300 pictures of retro signs. I needed to call somebody. I needed to do what we tell people all the time to do through our work with Oklahomans for the Arts. I needed to take action, but I didn’t. Maybe if I had, we could have raised the funds to save the Carlyle Motel sign. Instead it fell into the hands of a mercenary.
Notice how I didn’t say bloodless capitalist? =) I want the sign saved for all it can contribute to capitalism and free enterprise and the marketplace of ideas.
Gentleman of Guthrie
So, while I’m blaming myself, I might as well point out something else. Yesterday, I was in Guthrie for the big Gentleman of the Road Stopover that featured Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes and much more. As I strolled through the historic downtown filled with Victorian Gothic architecture, I was thankful for the people in Guthrie who didn’t allow the best pieces of it to be sold off to the highest bidder. Without preservation there would have been no Gentleman of the Road tour. There would have been no $109,000 donation to the Oklahoma City Food Bank by Mumford and Sons. There would be no $300,000 in sales tax revenue for Guthrie. And, that’s not the totality of the economic impact of this concert festival. There’s the gas and food bought on the road to the event. There were the people who flew in to Will Rogers and paid local fees and taxes. There were the people who took the opportunity to visit landmarks in Oklahoma City while they were here.
But, I think most of all, the most lasting benefit was not monetary. It’s what art and culture provide that money can’t buy. It was the swelling of town pride in Guthrie, especially among their beautiful and hopeful youth. More on that later.