Yellow brick road

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Yellow brick road
Cowardly lion2.jpg
Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, while traveling on the Yellow Brick Road.
The Oz series location
Creator L. Frank Baum
Genre Children's books
Type Yellow road, leading to Emerald City

The yellow brick road is an element in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, with additional such roads appearing in The Marvelous Land of Oz and The Patchwork Girl of Oz. The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, based on the novel, gave it the name by which it is better known, the Yellow Brick Road (it is referenced as "Road of Yellow Bricks" in the original novel). In the original book and in the later film The Wiz, Dorothy has to find the road, as her house was not deposited directly in front of it as in the 1939 film.


The road is introduced in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The road functions as a guideline for Dorothy to follow, as it leads to the Emerald City where the Wizard lives. In the book, the road is not complete in some parts, even being completely damaged by erosion or other means. In the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead likewise follow a yellow brick road to reach the Emerald City while traveling from the Gillikin Country in the north of Oz.[1] In the book The Patchwork Girl of Oz, it is revealed that there are two yellow brick roads from Munchkin Country to the Emerald City: according to the Shaggy Man, Dorothy took the harder one in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[1] While the road taken by the Shaggy Man et al. has man-eating plants, it lacks the chasms of the road Dorothy followed, and it does not go through a forest of wild beasts.

In the 1939 film, a red brick road can be seen starting at the same point as the Yellow Brick Road but going in a different direction. This road does not exist in the books. Also, at the cornfield where Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, there is a fork in the Yellow Brick Road. They decide which of the three branches to take, and eventually find themselves at the Emerald City.

In the 1985 semi-sequel Return to Oz, Dorothy finds the Yellow Brick Road in ruins at the hands of the evil Nome King. It is presumed that after she defeats him, the Road is restored.

Real yellow brick roads[edit]

The actual road is believed to be one in Peekskill, New York, where L. Frank Baum attended Peekskill Military Academy.[2] According to a local legend, the Yellow Brick Road was derived from a road paved with yellow bricks near Holland, Michigan, where Baum spent summers.[citation needed] Ithaca, New York, also makes a claim for being Frank Baum's inspiration. He opened a road tour of his musical, The Maid of Arran, in Ithaca, and he met his future wife Maud Gage Baum while she was attending Cornell University. At the time, yellow bricks paved local roads.[3] Yellow brick roads can also be found in Aberdeen, South Dakota; Albany, New York; Rossville (Baltimore County), Maryland; Montclair, New Jersey (Parkhurst Place and Afterglow Way); Bronxville, New York (on Prescott and Valley roads); Chicago, Illinois; Liberal, Kansas; Sedan, Kansas and Chittenango, New York, as well as a school in Abington, Pennsylvania, and abroad in Sofia, Bulgaria. Two direct, and only published references to the origin of the Yellow Brick Road, came from Baum's own descendants: his son Frank Joslyn Baum in To Please A Child and the other by Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum who stated, "Most people don't realize that the Wizard of Oz was written in Chicago, and the Yellow Brick Road was named after winding cobblestone roads in Holland, Michigan, where great-grandfather spend vacations with his family."

The Vision Oz Fund was established in November 2009 to raise funds that will be used to help increase the awareness, enhancement, and further development of Oz-related attractions and assets in Wamego, Kansas. The first fundraiser is underway and includes selling personalized engraved yellow bricks, which will become part of the permanent walkway (aka "The Yellow Brick Road") in downtown Wamego.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Inspired the title, artwork, and title song of Elton John's 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
  • Inspired the title of the song by hip-hop artist Eminem.
  • Inspired the title of the song by American musician, artist and poet Don Van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart, on his 1967 album Safe as Milk.
  • A song by Arctic Monkeys is called "Old Yellow Bricks."
  • Commenting on the song "The Sweet Escape," singer Gwen Stefani stated that it would put her "on the yellow brick road to the No Doubt record I might do."[5]
  • Oprah Winfrey has referred to her success as a "yellow brick road of blessings" during both the announcement of the decision to end her talk show and the farewell episode.[6][7]
  • Angus and Julia Stone also referred to the Yellow Brick Road in a song of the same name.
  • The American band Breaking Benjamin also referred to the Yellow Brick Road in their song "Home".
  • In "Gypsy", a song from Lady Gaga's Artpop, she sings "So I just packed my baggage and / Said goodbye to family and friends / And took a road to nowhere on my own / Like Dorothy on the yellow brick / Hope my ruby shoes get us there quick."[8]
  • The band Muse use a sample of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" in the outro of their 2015 song 'Reapers'
  • Inspired the title of the famous ice cream shop Yellow Brick Road in Brick, NJ[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b L. Frank Baum, Michael Patrick Hearn, The Annotated Wizard of Oz, p 107, ISBN 0-517-50086-8
  2. ^ Banjo, Shelly (May 31, 2011). "Historian Believes if You Follow the Yellow Brick Road, You End Up in Peekskill". Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company). Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Facts & Triva About Ithaca". Retrieved 2015-06-05. 
  4. ^ "Wamego Community Foundation". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  5. ^ "For The Record: Quick News On Rihanna, Luda, Lady Sov, Kelis, Nas, Harry Potter, Angelina Jolie & More". MTV News. MTV Networks. December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 25, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Oprah Announces Plans to End The Oprah Winfrey Show in September 2011". November 20, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Oprah Signs Off After 25 Years of The Oprah Winfrey Show". May 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ Lady Gaga (2013). Gypsy (Music). Berlin, Germany. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Dighe, Ranjit S. ed. The Historian's Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory (2002)
  • Hearn, Michael Patrick (ed). (2000, 1973) The Annotated Wizard of Oz. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-04992-2
  • Ritter, Gretchen. "Silver slippers and a golden cap: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and historical memory in American politics." Journal of American Studies (August 1997) vol. 31, no. 2, 171-203. online at JSTOR
  • Rockoff, Hugh. "The 'Wizard of Oz' as a Monetary Allegory," Journal of Political Economy 98 (1990): 739-60 online at JSTOR