The Motels of Route 66

by Bridget Harrington - Michael Moore May. 22, 2018 538 views

A motel is a hotel designed for motorists and usually has a parking area for motor vehicles. Entering dictionaries after World War II, the word motel, coined as a portmanteau contraction of "motor hotel", originates from the Milestone Mo-Tel of San Luis Obispo, California (now called the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo), which was built in 1925. The term referred initially to a type of hotel consisting of a single building of connected rooms whose doors faced a parking lot and in some circumstances, a common area or a series of small cabins with common parking. Motels are often individually owned, though motel chains do exist.

As large highway systems began to be developed in the 1920s, long-distance road journeys became more common, and the need for inexpensive, easily accessible overnight accommodation sites close to the main routes led to the growth of the motel concept. A common theme in the 1950s was "Get Your Kicks On Route 66," with local towns on the route advertising Route 66 family travel as a way to see the country. Businesses competed for traveler dollars by attracting visitors with "themes" and brightly designed signage.

Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s with rising car travel, only to decline in response to competition from the newer chain hotels that became commonplace at highway interchanges as traffic was bypassed onto newly constructed I-25 and I-40 freeways. Several historic motels are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

All of the motels in this series are located along the stretch of Central Avenue in Albuquerque, which is the "old Route 66." Some are in the process of being renovated or converted into studio apartments.

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