And there we were “Standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see”…and all this time, we thought this was a fictional place in a popular 1972 Eagles classic rock song. Oh, but we were wrong! It is very real.
What’s funny is we didn’t plan on going there. It just happened.
While we were on the road in spring of 2016 on our way to Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, we happened to stop for an overnight in nearby Holbrook. We parked our fifth wheel at the OK RV Park, unhooked and set up with ample enough time to go check out this notoriously small town treasure.
We like to go see things…the weird, the strange, the well-known and the unknown. Winslow was no exception. Besides, having been big Eagles fans and enjoyed their music from high school even through to today, it was just one of those ‘we have to go there’ places.
Today, there stands a life-size bronze statue of Jackson Browne with a guitar on the corner on Route 66 in Winslow. In the middle of the intersection is a huge Route 66 sign perfectly painted on the asphalt. Only a few steps away from the statue is the park surrounded by a wall of bricks; each with a donor’s name and story describing their fondness for Winslow.
There’s also an amazing life-like two-story mural by John Pugh behind Dan in the photo above. Those aren’t real windows; they’re actually painted.
A small tidbit of history of Winslow:
Winslow, a busy northern Arizona town was thriving until the 1960’s. A decade later, the construction of the I-40 bypass around Winslow began. When it opened, local traffic lessened considerably and business patronage dropped.
While the railroad remained and kept the town running, the much needed tourism came to a screeching halt. Local restaurants lost to national chains such as Walmart and McDonald’s along the new Interstate highway north of the town. Two decades went by and Winslow struggled commercially and economically. The town’s identity became lost; no more cars and trucks rolled through the town. Sadly, Winslow lost it’s map dot.
However, in 1997, Winslow’s La Posada Hotel(a former Harvey House on the Santa Fe Railroad long at risk for demolition) was beautifully restored and reopened. Listing of La Posada Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places would serve as a first step toward re-awakening the town.
The Standin’ on the Corner Foundation was formed to create a renaissance of Winslow. Determined to build on tourism, the Foundation took advantage of the town being mentioned in the song “Take It Easy” made famous by the Eagles.
From 1997 until 1999, the foundation was busy finding donors and planning design concepts. On September 10 and 11, 1999 the park was opened to the public. Across the street, stands Roadworks Gifts and Souvenirs and yes, they play(ed) nonstop Eagles music.
Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
Such a fine sight to see.
Its a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me…
Come on baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me.
We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again.
So open up I’m climbin’ in, so take it easy.
The 2006 release of the animated film ‘Cars’ brought renewed attention to the efforts to save local U.S. Route 66 main street businesses in towns long bypassed.
While Winslow itself is not depicted on-screen, the movie’s credits list both La Posada Hotel and Diane Patterson’s Roadworks Souvenir Shop at Standin’ on the Corner Park among the many Mother Road locations at which Pixar studio personnel conducted exhaustive interviews as part of extensive research for the film.
On October 18, 2004, there was a fire at the Standin’ on the Corner Park (before it became notorious). While the face of the building and the actual corner survived, the rest of the building was burned down. As of 2011, an attempt to restore downtown Winslow tourism has been on the up.
Today, the town seems to be a thriving bustle once again with locals and tourists driving the Route 66 and frequenting the shops and cafes. Old Route 66 is slowly making a comeback because of the tourism.
Now, each time we hear that song, it will take us back to that special corner in small town, Winslow while we will singing along…
Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy
Come on baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me…
If you want to visit…
To get to ‘the corner’, we took I-40 exit 252, then east on Route 66 (Second Street) Northwest corner of Second and Kinsley Avenue.