Route 66 in the News
East Meets West on Route 66
TULSA, Okla. - Tulsa is still getting its kicks on Route 66, which stretches for 23 miles through the city limits. Although Route 66 was decommissioned as a federal highway in 1985, Tulsa has chosen to keep the memory of the Mother Road alive through $15 million of enhancement and promotion projects funded through the Vision 2025 sales tax.
The newest of these projects is the “East Meets West” artwork on the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Centennial Plaza. Several hundred people joined me at the plaza recently for the dedication of the 20,000-pound bronze sculpture, a memorial to Tulsan Cyrus Avery, “Father of Route 66.” Three grandchildren of Cyrus Avery traveled to Tulsa for the occasion.
The Avery Plaza overlooks the historic Eleventh Street Arkansas River Bridge – renamed the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge after a recent restoration project. Cyrus Avery used the existence of this bridge, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, to justify Route 66 through the city of Tulsa. Without this bridge, Route 66 may have taken a different path.
The “East Meets West” sculpture, built 135 percent of actual size, is 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and 14 feet high. It represents how Route 66 and the bridge are where old met new, east met west, and the past met the future. Tulsa commissioned noted artist Robert Summers to create this monumental work. Summers also designed the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“East Meets West” tells the story of an encounter between the Avery family riding in a vintage 1926 Model T Ford automobile and a horse-drawn wagon coming from the west Tulsa oil fields. The wagon driver has his hands full with both horses rearing up from being startled by the automobile. As the figure representing Cyrus Avery exits his vehicle, standing with one foot on the running board, his wife reaches back for their daughter, Helen, whose son, Robert Berghell, came to Tulsa all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii for the sculpture dedication.
We’re keeping the momentum going on Route 66 with enhancement projects such as signs marking the historic route, restoration of the historic Meadow Gold sign and improvements to the intersection of 11th Street and South Yale Avenue, beginning January 2013.
In the meantime, I highly recommend a family outing to the Avery Plaza to see the magnificent “East Meets West” sculpture, celebrating our history and love for the Mother Road.
~Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.