Route 66 holds a very special place in our hearts. Its name reminds us of simpler times and mom-and-pop businesses. Route 66 travelers today can easily experience this nostalgic past, as many of the motels, gas stations, diners, parks, and bridges still remain along the route. Join 365 on 66 and be a part of this historical highway. We are dedicated to promote and showcase the businesses that are along the world famous Route 66.
Holly C. Barker and Tully Garrett, Owners and Operators of the Launching Pad and the Famous Gemini Giant on Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois.
Special thanks to Nick Thanas, owner of Lou MItchell's diner in Chicago, for kick off our first 365 on 66 video.
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Map showing approximate Route 66 location from Chicago to St. Louis, Missouri
Route 66 "Begin" sign, in Chicago, Illinois
The History of Route 66
Short History of Historic Route 66 1925 There was a last minute name change, renumbering our highway from 60 to the mythical number 66. 1926 U.S. Highway 66 (aka Route 66) was born along with most other U.S. Highways on November 11th, 1926. Route 66 connected the harbor cities of Chicago and Los Angeles. It was 2448 miles (almost 4000 km) long at the time. No new roads were created for this purpose. A collection of existing roads was used and indicated on maps and signs under the new name. At the time Route 66 was commissioned, only portions of the road were paved. It was still quite the adventure to travel it. Throughout its active life as a commissioned route, Route 66 was upgraded, straightened and paved, bypassing town centers that couldn’t handle the ever increasing traffic. While signs and maps would direct travelers to the newest version of the road, the older version w ould still remain, sometimes as a local road, sometimes abandoned for all practical purposes. Today we call these different versions “alignments”. The 1930s A lot of farming families headed west on Route 66 to California to escape the Dust Bowl that landed a lot of farming ground unusable. 1937 Route 66 is extended from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, the emphasis switching from transporting goods to transporting people for more leisurely purposes. 1938 Route 66 is finally paved end-to-end. 1940 The Arroyo Seco Freeway, the first urban section of limited access divided highway was completed between Pasadena and Los Angeles in California and it was carrying Route 66 traffic. WWII The military used Route 66 extensively to move equipment across the country in their fight against Germany and Japan. 1956 President Eisenhower had seen the German Autobahn system during and after WWII and created the Interstate system, which would eventually surpass Route 66 as a road for those needing to cover the vast distances involved. 1984 The last Route 66 town to be bypassed by the Interstate was Williams, AZ. 1985 Route 66 was officially decommissioned over its entire length on June 27th, 1985. Rebirth Route 66, however, wouldn’t die and actually became a destination in itself over the years. A large part of that is due to the efforts of various groups that try to preserve and protect Route 66 for future generations to enjoy. The pioneering role in this was for Angel Delgadillo – a barber in Seligman, AZ - who created the first modern Route 66 Association to promote his town to the tourists.
The following towns will have their individual pages.
East St. Louis
“Western Motel” neon sign, circa 1950. (Museum of Neon Art on loan to Autry Museum)
National “66” Convention & Will Rogers Memorial Celebration, 1940. (Collection of Steve Rider via Autry Museum)
Wigwam Motel, Route 66, Holbrook, Arizona. (Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress)