Route 1 Is a Pastiche of Big and Small, Old and New
THE relics of an older, smaller-scale Route 1 are still there. Pint-sized, abandoned gas stations. Tiny, faded restaurants with no windows left. Weeded-over motel cottages no bigger than two beds. A few churches boarded up. These are mostly rural artifacts close to a narrow Route 1 in North Carolina and the southern part of Virginia.In Philadelphia and Baltimore, small row houses along Route 1 are battered, forlorn, sometimes only a few feet away from the traffic flow. But the "new" urban and suburban businesses along Route 1, from low, sprawling shopping malls to video stores to new car dealers, are set back from the road and very big. Even the dozens of baseball-card stores for collectors open for business along Route 1 are big. In the heart of the Bronx, at the intersection of Fordham and Webster (still Route 1), a neon sign on the third floor flashes "Baseball Cards." A gilded, gleaming restaurant in Edison, N.J., has more than 600 items on the menu. Route 1 sits, six lanes wide, just beyond the parking lot. Going through parts of Philadelphia, it swells to 12 lanes. On the side of a bridge crossing the Delaware River in Trenton, N.J., is the ultimate sign of American entrepreneurial bigness. Huge steel letters six feet high are attached to the side, shouting, "TRENTON MAKES, WORLD TAKES."