Tulsa officially earns “Capital of Route 66” title

Several towns along the Mother Road for years have claimed to be the “Capital of Route 66.”

But the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Route 66 Commission ensured it isn’t just an idle boast. After a lengthy process, Tulsa officially secured a federal copyright for “Capital of Route 66.”

According to KJRH-TV and other media outlets in Tulsa:

The process lasted more than two years and involved exhaustive research and surveys before getting final approval from the federal government in April of 2024.

“Tulsa and Route 66 are deeply connected with the Mother Road running through the heart of our city,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “Route 66 is an integral part of Tulsa’s identity and we’ve long been known as the Capital of Route 66. To have this official designation is an exciting day for Tulsa, our region, and the state of Oklahoma.” […]

 The history of Route 66 is deeply connected to Tulsa. In fact, the first U.S. 66 Highway Association, the original association that promoted the road, was founded in Tulsa.

“Route 66 is a key part of Tulsa’s identity,” said Oklahoma Route 66 Association President Rhys Martin. “Likewise, Tulsa is a big part of Route 66’s creation and early promotion due to Cyrus Avery’s involvement. Being recognized as the Capital of Route 66 speaks volumes about the city’s intentional investment in the corridor and the local pride in being such an integral part of its history.”

And it sounds like the mayors of Springfield, Missouri, and Santa Monica, California, aren’t sore about Tulsa’s bragging right.

“Springfield shares a special bond with Tulsa in that two of our community leaders, John T. Woodruff and Cyrus Avery, were instrumental in making Route 66 a reality,” said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure. “We send our sincere congratulations to Tulsa on its official designation as the ‘Capital of Route 66’ and look forward to partnering in continuing to shine on a light on the excitement and opportunity of the Mother Road. As the Birthplace of Route 66, we are proud to be in your company!” […]

“Route 66 stands as a legendary American symbol of our collective history through time and place,” said Santa Monica Mayor Phil Brock. “We here at the ‘End of the Trail’ celebrate with our friends in Tulsa on their designation of this legendary road.” 

To its credit, Tulsa was an early adopter in embracing its Route 66 heritage. More than 20 years ago, it began allocating sales-tax money for various Route 66 projects.

In the past decade, activity along Tulsa’s Route 66 corridor has zoomed. One big driver is the city’s Route 66 Neon Sign Grant Program, which has funded the restoration or creation of more than 50 neon signs along the Mother Road.

I suspect Tulsa’s “Capital of Route 66” seed was planted by “Route 66: The Mother Road” author and longtime Tulsa resident Michael Wallis. He called the city”the Capital of Route 66″ more than two decades ago.

(Image of one of the Route 66 gateways in Tulsa courtesy of city planner Dennis Whitaker)

One thought on “Tulsa officially earns “Capital of Route 66” title

  1. The city obtained a federal trademark registration, not a “copyright”. The difference is substantial.

    The funny thing is, they misspelled “Capitol”, so the mark inadvertently refers to funds/financing, rather than it being a capitol city. You’d think that a government at any level would know the difference, or their outside attorneys might have caught the error and questioned it before proceeding. Bit of a clown show there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.