Long before there were interstate highways here in the United States, we had Federal Routes.
Federal Routes were roads like the famous Route 66; mostly two lane highways that were paved, well maintained, and the fastest way to get across the country, if that was your goal.
One of these federal highways still exits, and is living strong to this day: U.S. 50.
U.S. 50 was constructed in 1926. It spans from Ocean City, Maryland to West Sacramento, California. While Route 66 is more famous, U.S. 50 is longer; nearly 600 miles longer, at 3,008 statute miles. It is also one of the last, completely intact Federal coast to coast highways.
U.S. 50 (which I’ve grown up just calling “50,” as I live four miles away from it, and will just call it “50” from this point on) runs right through the Queen City of Cincinnati. Built back in a time when people were a bit more proud of their cities than we are today, and when Cincinnati was still a booming industrial river town, the city decided to put markers on the eastern side of Cincinnati where the actual city limits start.
I’m sure somewhere I could find out when these were constructed. In fact, Google searches such as, “Cincinnati Art Deco,” “Cincinnati City Limit Signs,” “Cincinnati Art Deco City Limit Signs,” yield no other photographs of, what have been for years, some of my favorite features of the Queen City.
I don’t know if there are a matching set on the West side of 50; I’ve never had reason to go there. But I do know that these beautiful signs stand as a glorious welcoming to a city that, fearfully, may have had its best days a long time ago.
If you want to know what it feels like to drive by these signs, watch The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring. As the Fellowship makes their way down the Anduin, they come to the borders of Gondor, and standing as warning are two of the old kings of Gondor.
While they’re not nearly as large as the kings of Gondor, driving past these beautiful signs will make you think of that scene.
I captured these at the absolute last light of a January day on Kodak UltraMax 400 film. Camera doesn’t matter.