The Lost Dream Of Route 66

Nov 16, 2018

In the early and middle years of the 20th Century, America's path westward was Route 66 -- Chicago to L.A., a 2400-mile adventure to better times.  Later on, in the first years of the 21st Century, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Edward Keating traveled every mile of Route 66 five times over, and he documented that times had changed.  "The landscape that seemed ravaged; people on the margins, enduring life not living life," as he describes it.  Eigthy-four of those photographs make up his new book, Main Street: The Lost Dream Of Route 66.

Keating says that when his explorations of Route 66 began in 2000 with an assignment for The New York Times, "I had no preconceived ideas of what I was going to run into.  I tried to keep my mind wide open.  But it didn't take long to realize what needed to be done with this project.  A good photograph is one that tells the truth."

"In photography, you're stuck in the present, but you're trying to evoke things from the past, anything that would refer to an earlier time, a better time," says Keating in this more complete version of the interview.  "One of my favorite pictures is the Pegasus, the Mobil sign that's been removed.  It's only half there, a reverse stencil.  One of the remnants, the ghosts that are left behind."