[DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this story are not those of the author or any Townsquare Media entity. We are simply reporting on what was found in an old travel book.] 

Apparently Rome, New York didn't leave out-of-towners with the best impression back in the day.


My fiancé is a bibliophile, and we often stop by used bookstores in whatever city we happen to find ourselves in. Her latest pickup was from Barner Books in New Paltz. The book is called "Blue Highways: A Journey Into America" by William Least Heat-Moon.

Will Phillips
Will Phillips

The book describes a lengthy road trip the author took across the country in 1978 after losing his job. His trip covered roughly 13,000 miles, mostly on back roads, while attempting to avoid major cities.

How the author describes his trip through Rome is pretty cringe:

From its appearance, it could have been London in 1946: the central section gutted but for a few old brownstone churches, a new shopping mall with triple-tier parking lot, and the National Park Service reconstruction of eighteenth-century Fort Stanwix covering several blocks on the east side. While the palisaded fort had been elaborately rebuilt, it did not turn Rome back into a city, and while ribbon development along the highways gave an economic life, it didn't give Rome a center. The place looked as if it had died of heart rot -- from the inside out.

Yikes. Not exactly the most stirring portrait.

Truth be told, I haven't read the entire book, but my fiancé has -- and she said the author isn't nearly as critical of any other city. Seems like Rome got the brunt of it.

Adrian Cross on Unsplash
Adrian Cross on Unsplash

What do you think: did this author miss the mark with his description of Rome? After all, it's been 45 years since his original trip. Surely things have changed for the better.

And in case you're wondering, William Least Heat-Moon is still alive. He's 83 years old and lives in Missouri.

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