You can rewrite history all you want, but nothing changes the facts.
The latest attempt at fabricating tall tales is declaring the Santa Monica Pier “The Official End of Route 66.” Official? Huh? Actual? Definitely not!
The Online Dictionary defines “official” as “Authorized by a proper authority.” No governmental entity is behind this sorry spectacle and City Hall isn’t required to approve such a designation because it’s not covered by municipal codes or regulations. So, who’s the “authority” behind these shenanigans? According to a Daily Press article (Nov. 10, Page 1, “Pier to be named official end of Route 66”), the authority is the Route 66 Alliance.
There are a number of organizations that promote Route 66. According to route66news.com, in Mid-June, 2008, “a steering committee was formed to establish a national Route 66 alliance.” The Alliance assembled a governing committee of 14 persons from various Route 66 associations from eight states.
It was this Route 66 Alliance that designated the Santa Monica Pier as the official western terminus of Route 66. Never mind that over time Route 66 had a number of ends and none were ever located even close to the pier.
I wrote about Route 66 on Nov. 5, 2007. “On the California end, the original 1926 terminus of U.S. 66 was at Broadway and Seventh Street in downtown Los Angeles. It was extended to Santa Monica in 1936. A number of sources, such as roadtripusa.com, claim U.S. 66 ends, ‘Near where Santa Monica Boulevard dead-ends at Ocean Boulevard (sic) Avenue … ‘
“But, the real western end of Route 66 is not at Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean in Palisades Park, after all. Rather, it’s at the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards. The historic66.com Web site says that the last leg of Route 66 from downtown Los Angeles ‘is on Santa Monica Boulevard and Lincoln where tourists are advised to turn left to Olympic.’ Wikipedia and Geocities claim ‘it terminated into what was at the time US101 ALT… (Lincoln at Olympic) a segment of California State Route 1.’”
So, how did Route 66’s terminus wind up on the Santa Monica Pier? It wouldn’t have anything to do with hundreds of daily visitors in town looking for the terminus of Route 66, would it? Tourists with bulging wallets? And, no souvenir stands at Olympic and Lincoln to spend money in?
Jim Conkle, a modern day P.T. Barnum and chairman of the Route 66 Alliance told the Daily Press he had a feeling that the new official end is solely for the benefit and convenience of tourists.
Conkle said, “We aren’t trying to rewrite the history books. The accepted end or beginning is going to be the Santa Monica Pier; it gives a tourist and tour groups a place to start and finish.” What? The double-talking Conkle and others are rewriting history because this “official” designation is solely to deceive visitors.
Conkle and his alliance have partners in the deception. The Pier Restoration Corp. (a City Hall entity whose citizen/political appointee governing board oversees the pier’s operation and management) and Dan Rice, who owns 66-to-Cali, a Route 66 souvenir shop on the pier, are involved in this scam. So is the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Any given week you can go to the visitor center on Ocean where there is a Route 66 sign, and there are so many people who request to take a picture,” said Alison Best, SMCVB’s vice president of sales and services. “The [new terminus] creates an end, brings people to the pier, and lets [tourists] get out of their car and experience the beach and pier,” she told the Daily Press.
Do we need to feed the rubes a bunch of hokum so they can enjoy our oceanfront? It’s bad enough that this chicanery comes from local entities — proving that Santa Monica’s tourism industry will stoop to cheap carney tricks to keep tourism dollars flowing. There’s no truth in this advertising.
And, when groups like the Route 66 Alliance that claim they’re promoting an American icon resort to lies and misrepresentation, everyone loses credibility. Even the news coverage scoffed that this “official” designation was inaccurate; therefore making us all look like lying impresarios and sideshow barkers.
Next, they’ll be claiming the sand next to the pier is the famous Malibu Surfrider Beach. Or, pilgrims landed at Oatman Rock Shop instead of at Plymouth Rock. Do those involved in this sorry charade really think sightseers are so dumb they won’t realize they’re being jerked around and ripped off?
As long as Route 66 aficionados are willing to twist history, let’s declare U.S. Interstate 10 as “Official Route 66” because it’s easy for tourists to find. And, the truth about the most iconic of American highways isn’t important except to those who come here to see the real, honest end of the road.
Bill gets his kicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.