You know how the line goes…
"Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see…
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me."
“Take it easy,” written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, was a big hit for the Eagles, but we’ll argue it was an even bigger hit for the town of Winslow, Arizona, eventually saving the town's tourism industry.
Like most Route 66 towns, Winslow was basically bypassed completely when I-40 came rolling through the southwest. The main streets of town, once filled with travelers headed along the Mother Road, were now empty. standinonthecorner.com tells the sad tale:
"Until the 1960′s, Winslow was the largest town in northern Arizona. The town enjoyed a prominent location on Route 66. Yet this prominence faded and nearly disappeared when I-40, a trans-continental highway, bypassed the community in the late 1970′s. Tourism based businesses felt the crunch and downtown business closed their doors. For the next twenty years, downtown Winslow was frozen in time."
Then one line in one song and some very forward-thinking citizens of Winslow changed the trajectory of the town. Thanks to Standin' on the Corner Park, Winslow, Arizona is back on the map and tourists once again travel through the heart of town. The park features a statue and a mural of a girl in a red Ford truck, slowing down to take a look, and the flatbed is perpetually parked across the street. It's basically the perfect photo op... but it's only the beginning of what Winslow has to offer.
The resurgence of Winslow didn’t start with the corner, though. It actually goes back to efforts to save another landmark in the town: La Posada Hotel. During the town’s heyday as a stop for steam locomotives, Fred Harvey wanted to built a hotel in Winslow (then the Santa Fe Railway headquarters) that would be the jewel of the southwest. With a price tag that, today, would equal nearly $40 million, the La Posada was completed just after the stock market crash. It would only be open for 27 years, eventually having most of its fine furnishings sold at auction. Facing an ever-constant threat of demolition for the next several decades, the La Posada Foundation and the new owner of the property, Allan Affeldt, finally set to restoring La Posada to be, once again, the Jewel of the West.
With the restoration of the La Posada such a success, the foundation changed their name to the “Standin’ On the Corner Foundation” and took to their next project, eventually making the now-famous park a reality.
But one of the best things about Winslow (other than the beautiful old hotel and the Eagles tribute, of course) are the locals. They're just so friendly, and they'll even make sure to stop their cars so as not to ruin your photo op at the Standin' On The Corner Park. You can hang out with some Winslow residents at the Sipp Shoppe across the street from the park. It's a little coffee shop/ice cream parlor that serves up some delicious diner grub and an awesome mom-and-pop joint atmosphere. You'll have a hard time tearing yourself away from this special town, but, alas, the road calls...
Winslow is lucky that it has avoided the fate that so many Route 66 towns bypassed by the highway faced... by saving and honoring the gems that made it special, it's managed to defy the odds. Head off the beaten path, and support the local businesses here that make Winslow the special piece of Americana that it is!