Alexandria Digital Research Library

Re-Visioning Winslow, Arizona: Experiments in the Historical Study of Place Employing a Variety of Personal and Modal Perspectives

Gilman, Roberta L.
Degree Supervisor:
Randolph E. Bergstrom
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Cinema, American Studies, and History, United States
La Posada
Santa Fe Railroad
Colorado Plateau
Route 66.
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. History
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

This study comprises a multimodal examination of attempts at the turn of the twenty-first century to revitalize the historic downtown district of the small but historically significant northern Arizona town of Winslow, located at the crossroads of ancient and contemporary travel routes across the southern section of a high desert region known as the Colorado Plateau.

This investigation represents an in-depth study of a space whose history has been recorded only briefly at best and analyzed not at all. From videotaped interviews and events collected over the span of twelve years, news articles, various primary documents and still photographs, and communication with individuals related by family history to Winslow, this study chronicles a civic move to effect a local "renaissance" by restoring commercial and civic enterprise at the center of Winslow's once-vital "main street." It traces efforts to save Winslow's historic Harvey House, La Posada, from demolition and support its restoration, establish a park and a music festival to attract visitors by memorializing a particularly iconic song, the Eagles' "Take it Easy," and, in conjunction with a national preservation movement begun in the 1990s, revivify interest in Winslow as a stop along the "Mother Road" (Route 66).

Different groups of citizens faced unique challenges under twenty-first century conditions of economy, location, and social expectation as they set out to return a moribund commercial district to its historical function as remembered by native residents and anticipated by unfamiliar travelers. Set against the nineteenth and early twentieth century background of Winslow's birth and development years the analysis considers the meaning of "renaissance" desires at the turn of the twenty-first, based as they were on material ideals of economic revival in a place and at a time when central cities nationwide were experiencing decline.

The project combines seven chapters of written history with five short visual documentaries, each of which illustrates the nature of the place and cultural qualities of its residents as they participated in the alteration of their local image. While the historic hotel that people hoped would serve as a catalyst to downtown revitalization was restored beyond almost everyone's expectations, neither commerce nor the architectural landscape that had once accommodated it was revived in Winslow's downtown. The success gap resulted from differences in market appeal: La Posada had a market; downtown Winslow did not. Still, the town's renaissance dreams were not completely dashed.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (476 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Roberta Gilman
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