The World Monuments Fund in 2007 listed Route 66 as one of the most threatened historical sites in the world.
Now, the group has hired a company to to create a virtual tour of a small section of the Mother Road. It is hoped that these virtual programs can be expanded to include many other sections of Route 66 to assist city planners, tourists, and preservationists.
The WMF commissioned GeoSim Systems to create a virtual tour of a section of Route 66 in South Pasadena, Calif. In it, longtime California roadie Glenn Duncan leads the tour.
According to a WMF release:
This virtual reality system is geared directly toward the public experience and allows business owners, residents, municipal governments, and others to connect and add to the online resource, whether through posting community data, uploading daily menus of their restaurants, or traveling through Route 66 as an avatar. It therefore serves would-be travelers as well as local residents.
This pilot demonstration is envisioned as an opportunity to foster a more robust constituency along Route 66 and, hopefully, to encourage the expansion of the virtual reality documentation across the eight states that are connected by Route 66.
Here’s a video introduction:
And here’s the download for the virtual tour. (Note: The download is more than 130 MGs, so make sure your computer can handle it. Setup after the download takes less than 5 minutes.)
Below is a screen shot from the virtual tour. The foliage and buildings look mostly natural, and in the tour you’ll see traffic and pedestrians passing by.
The freakiest — but fun — part of the virtual tour is seeing Duncan flying like Superman from one Route 66 landmark to the next. I half-expected him to dash into a phone booth and emerge in a red and blue caped uniform.
I suspect a few other roadies will be lining up to have their own chance to zip along like their favorite superhero in their favorite Route 66 neighborhood.
My first impression is it’s an interesting tool, and probably one that will become more ubiquitous in the coming years. Welcome to the future, folks.