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Route 66 News

Full inventory of Negro Motorist Green Book sites released

Green_Book_coverHere’s another reason to go on a road trip: The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program has released a list of all the properties listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book from 1936 to 1964 during the Jim Crow era of rampant racial segregation.

A full list of the properties and their statuses is here. Kaisa Barthuli, program director of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, said an interactive map of the sites will be produced soon.

A majority of properties on the list have been demolished. Most of the surviving structures are residences, where fellow black people would open their homes as guest houses. Many of the surviving structures were renamed or remodeled years ago.

For whatever reason, a big majority of the structures listed in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona, survive.

Notable properties listed that largely are unchanged from the Green Book days are El Rey Court in Santa Fe, La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, and Du Beau’s Motel Inn in Flagstaff. It also should be noted De Anza Motor Lodge in Albuquerque and Clifton’s restaurant in downtown Los Angeles are closed but eventually will be reopened after remodeling.

From the news release by the corridor preservation program:

While history is not always comfortable or easy, it is important that the stories of Route 66 are representative and inclusive of the diverse experiences of all who worked and traveled on the road. Never has this work been more important as we strive to engage the next generation of travelers and stewards.

Many thanks go to historian Frank Norris of the NPS National Trails Intermountain Region office, who led the research effort, and to the numerous state/municipal agencies; nonprofits; and private individuals who assisted with field research. With the survey complete, it can be used to identify properties eligible for National Register listing and for historic preservation and commemoration activities.

Many thanks also go to Candacy Taylor of Taylor Made Culture for her generous and excellent work in producing the video.

Here’s the video:

The Green Books weren’t just niche marketing. Sundown towns persisted along Route 66 in central Illinois, the Missouri Ozarks and large swaths of Oklahoma and Texas through the Civil Rights Era. These guidebooks helped keep black travelers from experiencing inconvenience, embarrassment or worse.

All editions of the Negro Motorist Green Book have been digitized and may be perused here.

(Cover image of the 1960 Travelers’ Green Book)

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One thought on “Full inventory of Negro Motorist Green Book sites released

  1. Dr. Trenton R. Ferro

    One possible reason for Flagstaff, AZ, having a large number of listings in the Green Book is that it was the terminus of the migration of skilled black labor in the lumber industry who moved from LA, MS, and TX to more lucrative jobs in Flagstaff. This migration is described by Jack Reid in “The ‘Great Migration’ in Northern Arizona: Southern Blacks move to Flagstaff, 1940-1960” (Journal of Arizona History, Vol. 55, No. 4 [Winter 2014], pp. 469-498). He devotes a full paragraph to Green Book, described specifically as a valuable resource in navigating racial discrimination when leaving the familiar environs of the south: “Whereas, in the South, African Americans were familiar with the nuances of segregation laws and knew of all-black communities that would offer them hospitality when necessary, on the road the situation was much different” (p. 481).

    Another article of potential interest to readers of this blog is John Larsen Southard, “Riches, Ruin, and Recovery: The Impact of Route 66 on Flagstaff, 1926-1938” (Journal of Arizona History, Vol. 54, No. 2 [Summer, 2013], pp. 153-174).

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