This presentation is part of Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture & Attractions Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 10-12, 2018.
By Amanda DeCort
A few decades ago, author and beloved Tulsan Michael Wallis wrote in his book, Route 66: The Mother Road, that “Route 66 though Tulsa had been pawed over and in long stretches is just plain seedy”. He was not wrong. As a city, we continued our passionate love affair with our cars – but we broke up with Route 66. Tulsa added endless miles of interstate in the second half of the 20th century, but our mom-and-pop Route 66 businesses disappeared in what seemed like a blink. As went the businesses, so went the buildings. Neon was out of style, but the mall was in. The Mother Road suffered mightily.
When a hometown hero calls you out in a widely published book for turning your back on the national treasure you have always taken for granted, you might just be at rock bottom. How do you climb back out and make the most of what is left?
This presentation explores Tulsa’s turnaround over the last 13 years and ongoing efforts to revive our 24 miles of Route 66. We will discuss the Route 66 Master Plan and resulting public improvements; saving the Meadow Gold sign; the Main Street program on “America’s Main Street” and the preservation ambitions of the new Route 66 Commission. Our aim is to bring our roadside architecture out of the past tense and into the future.
Amanda DeCort is the Executive Director of Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and a long-time advocate for saving places. She serves on the City of Tulsa’s Route 66 Commission and chairs its Preservation and Design Committee. Prior to TFA, Amanda spent ten years as the City of Tulsa’s historic preservation planner, where she listed numerous buildings and districts in the National Register of Historic Places. She provided support to the Tulsa Preservation Commission, and brought popular programs like hands-on window restoration boot camp and realtor education classes to Tulsa. Amanda earned a Master’s Degree in Community Planning with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. She lives in a 1925 Craftsman bungalow in the Riverview historic district.